Monday, April 13, 2009

Making do

A friend gave me a recipe for cinnamon cake which I wanted to make today. So I strolled over to the grocery store all set to buy some cinnamon. I normally get my spices from Herb and Spice because they sell spices in bulk but I didn't have time to walk all the way over there so I decided to get some at the store around the corner instead. But when I got there and saw all the spices in their plastic bags and bottles, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

Then I remembered that I had cinnamon sticks at home. I wondered if I could grind them up myself, decided to give it a try and turned around and walked back home.

I tried two ways of grinding:
1. with a zester/rasp
2. with a mortar and pestle

The rasp produced a very fine powder just like you'd buy at the store. But I have to admit that with every grate I felt like I was dulling or worse about to completely break my rasp. For the record, cinnamon sticks are hard as rocks! After making only about 1/4tsp of powder, I switched to the mortar and pestle.

The mortar and pestle produced a coarser powder and didn't take too much effort (only a few minutes of work). Because it was so easy, and because I wanted my rasp to live to see another day, I used the mortar and pestle for the rest of the 2tsp of cinnamon I needed.

I would definitely do this again. I love using up stuff I already have before buying something new, and also, freshly ground cinnamon smells amazing! Way better than the pre-ground stuff.

Here's what the finished cake looks like. I decided to throw some apples on top with the cinnamon sugar because I had some in the cooler. I just ate a piece and am v. happy with how it turned out. P'haps I need another piece just to be sure though.


Irma said...

Helloooooo, you are not allowed to post a picture like that without the recipe!

Laura said...

Yum Yum! Am I ever so glad that I still have a cup of the starter.

Green Grrl said...

:-) Good point Irma! I should have included the recipe. The cake is something called Amish Friendship bread. It requires a starter that is handed around from friend to friend. The recipe for the cake and the starter can be found here:

But if you aren't in the mood for making the starter (I have to admit I didn't do the 10 day thing, I just used the starter the day after I got it from my best buddy Laura), you can try this recipe. It's a cake my Mum has been making since I was a kid:

Apple Cake
1 3/4 cups flour (I use spelt)
3tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk
Topping: 2 med. sized apples (peeled and cut into 8 pieces each), 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon

-cream butter and sugar. Add egg.
-sift flour, salt, and b. powder
-gradually mix in milk and vanilla with the butter/sugar mixture (add a bit of the flour mix with each bit of milk)
-fold in the rest of the flour
-put batter in a 7x11 pan
-place apple pieces on top and sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar
-bake at 350F for 35-45 min


Natalie said...

Funny post - I can relate to your frustration with the grocery store options and leaving empty-handed, we have been so stubborn as to do that on occasion too!

About the cake, I used to make this as well, but when we dropped bovine dairy and reduced our use of sugar (you know, from the big corporations) I ditched the recipe and the starter.

Have you ever tried it with an alternative kind of milk, such as almond or rice? (I know, that comes in bad bad tetra-packs...) (never mind, forget I asked...)

It isn't easy being green ~ Kermit the Frog

Turboglacier said...

Grinding your own spices is the way to go! I use an old spare coffee grinder. It takes on cinnamon sticks without trouble. If you start grinding your own coriander, cumin, tumeric, and so forth (if you use them at all) you'll be amazed at the extra flavor in your cooking!

Green Grrl said...

Hi Natalie! I haven't made the amish bread with soy/rice milk but I have made the apple cake recipe with soy and it turned out just fine. I also am trying to cut down on sugar and have successfully made the apple cake with maple sugar instead which is surprisingly much less sweet (surprising since maple sugar candy is so very sweet). But I think it depends on your maple sugar - some is sweeter than others. The stuff I had was quite light coloured, mild tasting and not too sweet. Happy experimenting! :)

Hey Turboglacier! I totally agree that fresh ground spices are better. I've always freshly ground my spices for curries but for some reason I'm only just now trying cinnamon. I also tried fresh ground ginger the other day too. My dad brought me back some dehydrated ginger from a business trip. It was fantastic. Now I want to try dehydrating any left over fresh ginger I have lying around. Just the talk of all these spices is making me hungry!