People have asked me in the past where my love of cooking came from and I have never gave it enough thought before to come up with a definitive answer. But I’ve been giving it a lot of thought over the past few weeks and found that the truth is that there have been many influences in my cookery journey and they have all played their part in the knowledge and experience that I have amassed so far.
One of my earliest baking memories is making bread with my paternal granny. You could call soda bread my granny’s signature dish because she must have made it almost every single day of her life or married life at least. Having 16 kids meant that there was a high demand for bread in her house!!! We used to mortify mam every time we called to granny’s because we used to always ask for bread and jam. Granny must have thought we were never fed at home because we’d be like a pack of wolves round the table waiting for her to butter and jam the bread.
When we were being minded by granny we would often get to help make the bread and as a special treat granny would break off small pieces of the dough to let us roll and mess with and make our own mini soda breads. There could be half a dozen of us cousins “helping” but she never batted an eyelid. The mini loaves would go on the tray alongside her monstrosity and be put in the oven to bake. Well the wait for the bread to bake used to seem like forever and a day and the smell would be teasing us long before it was ready. Then when it did come out of the oven we had to wait some more because it was too hot for our little mouths to get our teeth round. We’d break them open to cool quicker and if we had patience we’d put butter and jam on them but more often than not they just went in naked and the warm freshly baked dough was like honey going down our throats.
Of course because they were baked for the same length of time as the large cake they were always well done and had a lovely hard chewy crust which made them all the more tasty.
I have often wondered since, how many times she gave little dough balls to little ones round the table between her own 16 children and the dozens of grandchildren and now great grandchildren that have came since. Some of the grandchildren are the age i was then (around 25 years ago) and i’m sure she still goes through the ritual if they happen to be in the house when she’s making bread though her nest is well emptied now and she doesn’t make bread as often. But she still has lots of callers and they all love to be offered the homemade bread and jam!