"Who wants to help me make some soda bread?" said Ted, one morning. This was quite an honoring offer to have been made, for Ted's breads are famous and lots of fun to make. He is not a baker who insists upon doing all the work himself. He lets small hands help him do it, instructing all the while. It sounded promising.
"We do!" said the three. "Where will it bake?"
"Why, the bread oven, of course. I have heard you are quite interested in the bread oven."
They certainly were. They were interested in Ted's bread oven because it was well spoken of by their Grandfather, who was always saying that he wanted one. He was always wanting an AGA too, and so was Grandma, only it would all become much too hot for southern California. They talked and talked about doing this, trying to figure a way around all of that heat. There is heat in a bread oven and heat in an AGA; and there is even more heat in California. So it was a conundrum.
But here was an actual bread oven in cool Norfolk, with Ted standing next to it, its flames flaming about inside.
"First, we will heat this oven up very, very high, and then we will let it cool back down just a bit, making it exactly the right temperature to bake your bread. When you come back from town, we will begin."
The children got ready in due time, and climbed into their grandpa's rental van (which is perfectly huge), off to explore. There was much to explore, for their mother had lived in the town for two years, and had told them all about it. She had told them about exploring the graveyard in her back yard, and seeing it from her bedroom window whenever she peeked out; she had told them about walking to the High Street by herself every Saturday for candy; about the park where their uncle had broken his collar bone doing something daring (the Rather Stunning Son is still a daring piece of work); she told them about the local school where the Headmistress had made them 'eat British' at the Noon Meal, for it was the only proper way, and about going home for dinner and Grandpa (her father) making them 'eat American', for IT was the only proper way. This last bit was rather confusing, because they kept on forgetting which way was the most proper, and getting themselves scolded.
The children knew about all of these things, and thought them funny. It was strange to think of Mother getting into even a little bit of trouble, for she is a proper lady now; but they knew that she did, because Grandma had confirmed this sad fact - and then laughed.
After all of this exploring and remembering, they all came back to Rosie's and found Ted chopping wood next to an enormous pile of it all stacked up and tidy. They stared at its enormity, in awe - there were simply hundreds of pieces of it. Probably even thousands. No one could ever imagine a day when all of the pieces of Ted's wood had been burned up. You could make almost a million loaves of Soda bread, and never run out.
Into the house went Ted, followed by his troup of small but eager Sous Chefs. Each one had a job to do and did it well, under Ted's kind tutelage. In the end, three loaves of the splendid bread were mixed, kneaded (only slightly, mind. Soda bread does not bear up under very much), cut, and placed. At some point they were set into the oven (the SconeLady did not see just when, because she had fallen fast asleep), and at some point they were taken out - done to a turn.
There is nothing in the baking world that comes out quite as wonderfully as Soda Bread, in any form - but most particularly as toast, with lots of butter, and jam. Ted would probably say that all of that butter and jam might spoil the natural taste. And he is probably right. But we can't possibly help ourselves and so we reach for it, apply it liberally, and consider the whole thing finger-licking good.
It's the American way. The only proper way.
See you along the way!