Bakers Journal

Tricks of the Trade: August-September 2012

August 29, 2012

There are many kinds of cinnamon. What type of cinnamon is the most suitable for a bakery?

There are many kinds of cinnamon. What type of cinnamon is the most suitable for a bakery?

In the case of brioche, cinnamon is added to the dough before it is rolled, to minimize damage to the yeast.


Cinnamon is used to flavour several bakery products, such as bread, raisin bagels, brioches, doughnuts, Danishes, cakes, biscuits, tarts…the sky’s the limit for cinnamon and its uses.


Cinnamon is one of the most well-known spices. We can read of its existence in the oldest treaty of Chinese botany dating back to 2500 BC. This spice is used to do everything from cook food to make marinades and even pharmaceutical products.

Cinnamon is dried bark from the cinnamon tree, which is in the same family as the laurel and the avocado tree. We obtain cinnamon by cutting small branches from a three-year-old tree. As it dries, the bark winds itself, creating the sticks of crisp cinnamon we commonly see. There are many varieties of cinnamon trees with differing aroma properties but the two most marketed are the Ceylon and the tree of China (called also cassia).

The cinnamon tree of China has a flavour stronger and pricklier than that of the cinnamon tree of Ceylon. This sort is found in the wild state in Indochina and is cultivated in Indonesia and in Asia. It costs less and occupies almost all of the North American market. We find this cinnamon under three names: Batavia, Saigon and Korintje.

The cinnamon tree of Ceylon is cultivated particularly in India, in Seychelles, in Jamaica, in South America and in Madagascar. Its slender, smooth and fine bark is a light matte brown and the most aromatic of all. The paler cinnamon is, the better its quality. This is the cinnamon of Ceylon. We also find it used in essential oils.

There is no specification to meet the various uses that we make with cinnamon. However, Table A gives some indications of American standards for content.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency recommends the following specifications: 2% maximum of insoluble ash, 6% of total ash, 13% maximum of humidity and 1.2% minimum of volatile oil. The higher the percentage of volatile oil, the better the quality of cinnamon.

Store cinnamon in a hermetic bowl, shielded from light and humidity. Leaving cinnamon exposed to ambient air will cause a loss of flavour and aroma. Cinnamon lasts a year or more if it is stored in good conditions.

For fermented bakery products, Korintje cinnamon brings a good efficiency and causes less damage in the yeast than other varieties when it is mixed in the dough. In the case of brioche, the cinnamon is added to the dough before being rolled, causing less fatal effect.

As for the difference in taste, nothing is better than trying the various types in your products to find out what is most popular. There are also some modified products in the flavour of cinnamon, such the flakes of fat of cinnamon and the nuggets of cinnamon. These mix well into the dough to leave a mark of cinnamon in the crumb after the cooking. The labelling of these products will have to include all of the ingredients according to the data sheet of the supplier. When used in some products, it may be declared as “spice”; however, in certain other products, such as brioche, it is better to be more specific and declare it “cinnamon.”

When we use some ground cinnamon, it may be declared as “spice”; however, if the product is a brioche, it is better to be more specific and declare it “cinnamon.”

The department of research and development of BSA INC, importer and transformer of spices, supplied the technical information for this article. Many thanks to Nathalie and Marie-Josée.


Mario Fortin is an international bakery consultant and owner of FORMA-LAB, consulting services to Bakers and Suppliers. If you need technical information, send your question to info

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