In a recent blog I wrote that I would say more about how hygge and retirement fitted together. I think this is that moment. Nobody seems very clear exactly what the Swedish (is it?) word actually means and, given the positive plethora of recently publication purporting to explain the concept to us Brits, you’d think the meaning would, by now, be clear. As far as I can determine it’s something to do with cosiness and candles and possibly contentment, i.e. a capacity to live in / enjoy the moment and value the simple things in life which would seem to make it, at first sight, a far cry from my idea (apart from the candles that is) of that missing link of my retirement at least. The one I’ve written about so many times in these blogs. But I think it’s also about being cold or rather outside being cold and you being warm. As I’ve always preferred cold countries to hot ones so hygge should suit me well.
So there just may be a relationship between hygge and my missing link (the activity that will make my retirement perfect) and that link is cinnamon buns. Cinnamon buns are very hygge. Let me explain. It all started on a recent visit to IKEA, I think we were looking for a red chair for the Derbyshire cottage and instead found cinnamon buns or rolls – there’s some confusion. We bought a packet, took them home were disappointed to find that they needed cooking so we couldn’t eat them straight away but tried them the next day as an accompaniment to the coffee from our new Nespresso machine (a discovery on our Scottish holiday), ooh you have a good life as my mother used to say, probably still saying it somewhere. We were impressed with the combination and in fact I became obsessed with cinnamon buns or rolls if you prefer. I dreamed about them and spent most of my waking moments trying to work out how I could get more of them. I needed cinnamon buns or rolls badly.
Let me take a small diversion, just to set the context for the rest of this retirement blog. I have written before about all those activities I planned to engage in when I retired – golf, photography, travel, writing and one more I’ve mentioned in a previous blog – cooking. In three years I have cooked one Chinese meal, the type all thrown together in a wok. It was OK and of course Mrs Summerhouse waxed lyrical about how great it was but I knew she was bull-shitting me so I would cook more meals. The problem is she is a great cook and I, am not. So I feel disempowered, at least that’s my story as to why I don’t cook but then along came cinnamon buns.
Many years ago, well before I retired, we bought a bread maker and off I went, with great enthusiasm, making bread. It may not surprise you to learn that the enthusiasm lasted about two months and then, as I believe is often the way with bread makers, it was put away and languished in the cupboard for all these years. Retirement, despite the odd passing thought, did not bring the machine out of its retirement… until this week. I had one of those ideas that I have become famous for (I don’t actually do anything I just have the ideas, but each to his or her own). The idea this time was I could make cinnamon buns with the bread maker. All I needed was a recipe.
There are hundreds of recipes for cinnamon rolls / buns whatever, on the internet. Despite words like simple, easy, quick etc. I found the recipes intimidating. Oh dear, idea already about to crash and burn. Then Mrs SH saved the day by finding an old bread-making recipe book which also had recipes for buns unfortunately not cinnamon whatsits. There was a recipe for Chelsea buns however that you didn’t need a degree in domestic science to follow. I’ll just sprinkle a little cinnamon over the currants and bingo a close approximation of the cinnamon roll, bun, thing.
And so on Saturday, it came to pass. Yours truly made buns and I include the photo above as proof of my endeavours. Of course you have no proof that I made them but trust me dear reader they are all my own work. The process went quite well with the possible exception of the damn things remaining distinctly unrisen. I had to practically blow torch them to get the bloody yeast to rise. I can say they did not double in size in 30 minutes but, with extreme heat, they made some effort to expand. After several hours it was clear they didn’t intend to get any bigger so I said a short prayer and forced them into the oven. I often wondered what that big shiny thing was in the kitchen and now I know, it’s an oven and cooks things. And so it was, the shiny thing cooked my buns.
You’ll of course want to know how they turned out when we tried them with our Nespresso coffee next day. Well, not bad. They were perhaps a bit solid, unrisen I suppose you’d say. But on the whole, not bad and would have made extremely effective rocks had a burglar chosen that moment to enter our dwelling. But, no, they were OK – for a first attempt, as the inevitable rider has it. Good enough to persuade me to try again bearing in mind the lessons learned from this first attempt – roll out thinner, a bit more yeast maybe, more currants, more cinnamon and brown sugar. Sounds pretty experienced doesn’t it.
So back to the main point of this blog – will bun-making form an on-going and deeply satisfying hygge oriented retirement activity? Is this albeit modest approach to cooking the missing link I’ve been searching for? Is this retirement satisfaction guaranteed? Well, we shall see.
I’ll leave you with the photo below it’s a picture of my daughter’s and son-in-law’s rabbit. He rarely watches television but was appalled by last week’s election although you can’t see this on his furry face. He said he thought he’d seen it all with Brexit and he was glad he wasn’t human. It takes a rabbit… I should have called this blog from bun to bunny. Get it?