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“Whether it’s at my grandparents’ table in their chilly kitchen or close to a fire in a cozy pub, the smell of soda bread makes me think of rolling green hills and good cheer.”


I like to cook, but I am no baker. See exhibit A:

alone-together-cookies

That was my attempt at chocolate chip cookies. I figured I couldn’t really screw those up. I was wrong. But I still ate them (all two dozen). So I’ve basically just stuck to cooking. However, there is one thing that I started baking for St. Patrick’s Day three or four years ago and I make it every year: Irish Soda Bread.

This is a truly special bread, it’s not only delicious, but it’s also very comforting. There is something about the taste, and more so the smell, that instantly transports me to Ireland. Whether it’s at my grandparents’ table in their chilly kitchen or close to a fire in a cozy pub, the smell of soda bread makes me think of rolling green hills and good cheer. If you’ve never had it, my writing will be insufficient to describe how truly great this bread can be. It’s dense, hearty, sweet, and delicious. Add Irish butter — rich, creamy, and inexplicably golden – and that’s all you need, all day, every day. Oh, and it’s really easy to make.

Since all this began, and I’ve been isolated at home, I’ve been baking this bread. The smell of fresh-baked bread filling my apartment feels like a warm (and delicious) blanket wrapping around me. So yes, now I am amongst the countless other home bakers who have bought up all the flour (though no yeast is required!) and started making bread at home. Sorry.

Here is a simple recipe from a great little site, The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread. They take their bread seriously: “Flour, Salt, Baking Soda, Buttermilk. Anything else added makes it a Tea Cake!” In addition to a few recipes, there is a bit of history (including, get this! the oldest reference to a published soda bread recipe…can you even?!?). So you also get some great reading while your bread is baking and that sweet, sweet aroma fills the air.

— Kyle Purcell

Kyle Purcell is the Manager of Marketing and Communications at The Theatre Centre.

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Alone Together is a series of shared stories by The Theatre Centre. Over the next several weeks, our team is going to offer you some of our own personal joys, those things that nudge us, the arms that extend to us in the dark, those things that catch our hearts off guard. And we’d love to hear from you in return… what’s blowing your heart open these days?

Catch up on previous editions of Alone Together:
• Artistic Director Aislinn Rose on Teju Cole’s interview with On Being
Producer Alexis Eastman on her love of swimming
Marketing Coordinator Tamara Jones on her relationship with words