Lazy Sunday and Apple Cinnamon Rolls

I woke up to a wet, wet autumn Sunday. Through the window of my makeshift study cum bedroom window, I could see that it rained again in the night. Rain water droplets glistening on the leaves of the different types of flora in the garden, dressed in the finest autumn colours of red, orange, yellow, brown and green. 

I had a feeling that it was going to be a good day. First, we were having a 3-day weekend as it’s La Toussaint (All Saints Day) on Monday. Hence, the usual ‘starting work tomorrow’ pressure would not appear today. Second, I slept in without feeling too guilty;  due to the autumn Daylight Saving Time, I managed to sneak in an extra hour of sleep.

My bowl of unhusked hazelnuts from the smallest of the three bags. There is still about 10% left in that bag.

Indeed, it was a relaxing lazy Sunday. Instead of cooping up in my room, I decided to camp myself in the garden to work on my hoard of hazelnuts. The harvest season for our hazelnut tree ended four weeks ago and our bountiful tree had produced three bags ( 700g, 1150g and 1870g) of hazelnuts, weighing 3.7kg in total. However, these were the raw hazelnuts—the husks,  shells and the kernels. After removing the inedible parts, I estimated that I would be left with 40% of the original weight. 

Due to the current renovation in our house (we have evacuated from the first floor and packed ourselves and all our stuff into the basement), we have placed the bags on the stairs leading to the basement. The past four weeks of renovation have covered the whole house with layers of dust, including the hazelnuts. To avoid getting dust in my small study cum bedroom, I planned to unhusk the hazelnuts in the garden.

After bundling up warmly for the morning temperature in the early teens, I planted myself on a foldable camping chair and started unhusking the hazelnuts from the  smallest bag. Even though I was in our small little 250m² garden, I had the sensation that I was out there, out in the nature, all by myself. 

Mornings are definitely the best time of the day to be out in the garden. 

From where I sat in the folding chair, my view was filled up with the tall trees from the neighbours’ gardens who live further down, and also, most important of all, the trees from the woods located less than 100m from our house, at a slightly higher elevation. The flimsy barrier that was between my nearest neighbour’s garden and ours was partially camouflaged or hidden by the various crawling plants and tall shrubs. Other than the rustling of the husks as I plucked the hazelnuts out from their husks, and the occasional gentle swishing sounds of the foliage as a breeze passed through, no other sounds could be heard.

Mornings are definitely the best time of the day to be out in the garden. 

After spending an hour working on the hazelnuts, I spent another hour puttering on the land removing tenacious weeds and sorting out the fallen apples. The rain and wind from the night below had blown many of the apples down from the tree.

It is currently apple harvest season (the former owner actually mentioned La Toussaint as the time when the apples would be ripe). Unfortunately, as mentioned previously, my little fruitful apple tree is sick. It produces many apples but they are diseased by Apple Scab and Brown Rot. The ones that are attacked by Apple Scab may still be eaten, but not those infected by Brown Rot. I managed to salvage a few apples after going through the whole lot. 

Apples that I have managed to salvage.

With the apples piling up and taking up the small amount of space we had in our tiny kitchen, I decided to make something out of them…apple cake? apple cookies? Apple Cinnamon Rolls! 

The combination of sweet apples with the woody spicy taste of cinnamon seems to be just the right comfortable food for a wet autumn Sunday.

We have to stay in the basement for five weeks while waiting for the main floor to be renovated. As you can see, our current kitchen (rather kitchenette) is too small for the two of us to be cooking at the same time. There is hardly even any kitchen countertop space left to roll my dough.
We have to buy a portable induction cooktop burner so as to survive our coming to five-week stay in the basement. It was a good investment. Without it, we would have been eating microwaved food for every meal.

After a quick search on cinnamon rolls (instead of apple cinnamon buns which I think might be less popular), I fell onto a website with the Swedish version of cinnamon rolls “kanelbullar”. I decided to use the recipe as a rough guide to bake my Apple Cinnamon Rolls. A rough guide because other than adding diced apples to the recipe, I also changed the proportions of certain ingredients and I did not follow strictly the baking instructions. For instance, I reduced the amount of butter and sugar used. I also missed the step on mixing the yeast in warm milk and the room temperature in my current basement kitchenette was tad cold to make the yeast dough rise enough within the stated waiting time. 

The absent-minded me totally missed the step on mixing the yeast in warm milk (instead I mixed it with the milk kept at room temperature which was rather chilly in the basement!). The dough did not rise as much as it should be.
Flattening the dough on a cutting board. The limited kitchen countertop made rolling dough a tricky task.
Flattened dough sprinkled with brown sugar, diced apples, butter and cinnamon.
Slicing the dough into stripes of 2cm before rolling them into little buns.
Voila! The rolls before putting them into the oven. I have created 3.5 trays of rolls...which are way too many for Silviu and I. I have frozen two of the trays of unbaked rolls...not sure whether they would be edible when I unfreeze and bake them later. I will provide an update once I try them in a couple of weeks' time.
The end result. They don't taste that bad after all the slip ups and changes I have made. However, I have to admit that the texture is less bready than it should be. It's most likely the issue with the yeast. Regardless, Silviu and I still like them...that's the most important thing. And we had them as dinner dessert on the wet autumn Sunday night.

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