Yes, the snow has finally began to fall here in Minnesota. The flakes this morning are particularly large and lovely and are just now starting to accumulate making the yard look like it has been dusted with powdered sugar.
Since breaking my back, snow on the ground and the slipperiness it brings means that I am indoors for much of the duration of winter. I have always hated being indoors. Still, those first few beautiful delicate white flakes initiate a sense of childlike joyful excitement, create a rush of memories and a need to preheat the oven.
Maybe it was because I was a lot shorter or that farmsteads were so isolated, but it seems to me that the snow storms during the 1960’s, when I was growing up on our farm, were monsters compared to any in recent memory. Of course, no matter how severe the whiteout conditions or how buried we were in ten foot high snowdrifts, nothing ever compared to the Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940. And….it didn’t.
Snow on the farm was always much more fun for children than it was for adults. In those days, there were no cozy defrosted and heated cabs on tractors. Snow removal was a freeze your face, hands and feet operation for our farm’s menfolk. It was their mission to remove the tons of snow that isolated us from contact with fellow human beings or an excess of family bonding. Either way the situation that required immediate action. Most importantly prevented our cow’s milk from being delivered to the creamery in town.
The long tree-lined picturesque lane of spring, summer and fall became their nemesis. For it morphed into a glacial blue chasm that needed to be constantly defended against an onslaught organized by the wind and rolling sea of snow drifts to erase everything of color. Eventually they devour even the sliver-laden wood snow fences whose red stripes inevitably disappeared completely from view.
Our old green John Deere tractor and its front loader, which was purchased right after World War II, was well-trained in the task of removing nuisance solids. Whether it was cow manure or snow, that tractor always seemed to have its wheels spinning in something slippery whenever it worked on destroying or making piles.
There are many types of piles on a farm. Some are more fun than others. Stinky or painful ones should be always avoided. However, ones of grain or snow are great fun. All of the snow removed from the lane and farm yard would create mountainous piles of snow for sledding, belly surfing, and fort building and defending.
A day of playing on a snow pile often ended with piles of wet woolen mittens; socks; hats; snow pants; and old plastic bread bags, forced into emergency service as boot liners, hanging on the wooden clothes drying rack. In the heavily cinnamon-scented dining room around a great round oak table, warm delicious baked treats, made especially for weary snow pile builders and players, disappeared as quickly as the visibility outside of the old farm house’s leaded glass windows in a snow-laden gust of wind.
Caramel Apple Cinnamon Bun Coffee Cake
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Lightly grease an 8 X 8 X 2 inch cake pan
2 cans of cinnamon rolls
4 large apples, peeled and finely diced. (Tart apples are best my favorite is Haralson)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup caramel sauce
In a large bowl mix together apples, sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Coat evenly.
Open cinnamon roll containers and separate the rolls. Cut each roll into 1/4 in slices. On a floured counter, roll out slices until thin. If rolls are too sticky to roll out…coat with a little flour and proceed.
In the bottom of the prepared baking dish arrange the first layer of thinly rolled cinnamon bun dough. Be sure to cover the entire bottom of pan and up the sides.
Seal all of the edges by pressing them together with your fingers.
Spread half of the apple mixture over the first layer of dough. Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of caramel sauce on top of the apples.
Cover with another layer of flattened cinnamon roll dough.
Spread remaining apples on top of dough and drizzle with remaining caramel sauce.
Cover with remaining flattened cinnamon roll dough.
Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Cool for at least a half and hour. Before serving, drizzle with the icing that came with the cinnamon bun dough.
Slice and serve.