Saturday, October 31, 2009

In the Name of Friendship

My mother-in-law, who is a very dear friend, gave me a starter for Amish Friendship Bread. The sweet woman can't bear to waste anything, so I took the starter. I told her I'm not very good at nurturing these things. I nurtured my children pretty well, but I regularly kill anything else that requires consistent care, like houseplants and sour dough starters.

The starter came to me in a quart-size freezer bag. It's a living breathing blob of dough that must be kneaded daily and fed on day five and day ten. The kneading is pretty easy. Just massage the plastic bag. Not hard, just make sure you crack the zip lock to let the gases escape.

Day five rolled around. I knew it was day five, but I had other things going on day five. When I lay down in bed that night, I remembered what I had forgotten. Tough, the stuff will just have to wait until tomorrow. So day six officially became day five.

On the new day five, I added milk , sugar, and flour. Whole wheat flour, even though that's not what mom used. But didn't people who used to make bread with sour dough starters use mainly whole wheat, not the enriched, bleached, white stuff? Mom had prepared me for the fact that the starter grows after you feed it. She recommended that I put the whole shabang in a plastic grocery bag, just in case it explodes.

On day seven, I got up planning to go knead the bag, only to find it had exploded. I transferred what was left of the gooey mess in the quart bag to a gallon-size freezer bag, scooped up the blobs of dough sticking to the inside of the grocery bag, zipped it shut and dutifully kneaded it.

Lying in bed on the night of day ten, I remembered I had forgotten again. So on day eleven, I fed the living, breathing mass another dose of milk, sugar, and flour. The next step called for scooping out one-cup portions into four new quart-sized freezer bags. Then with what's left, you're supposed to make the bread.

Add three eggs, done. Add a box of instant pudding. Rats. I can't even remember the last time I bought instant pudding. After some research on the internet, I concluded that there is no reliable substitute for instant pudding. I turned off the over and the kettle (I needed a cup of tea by this time) and went to the grocery store. I came home and added the pudding. Went to the cupboard to get the oil and didn't have a full cup to add. Should have checked before I went to the grocery. Jeepers. Mom wasn't home to borrow any from, so I headed up the street to my mother's kitchen. She only had olive oil. I'm not sure that's the best vegetable oil for baking cakes, but at this point, I wasn't too picky.

Home again, I added the oil. More flour, more sugar (less than called for), more milk, nuts, raisins, etc. I plopped the dense dough into two loaf pans and stuck them in the oven. An hour later, voila. Amish Friendship Bread.

It is now time for lunch. I used up the entire morning on two loaves of bread that have way too much sugar and a pudding box full of chemicals, all in the name of friendship.

And like my mother-in-law, I couldn't just dump all those little bags of living breathing dough in the trash. So I stopped by my beauty shop and left them all there for some poor sucker who's looking for friends.

1 comment:

  1. I've got a native Colorado sourdough starter I could send you... You only have to feed it a couple of times before you want to use it, and it doesn't explode. And you can make whole wheat bread from it!