First of all, have you ever had this stuff? Um, wow. Pretty much anything that is COMPLETELY ENCRUSTED IN CINNAMON AND SUGAR is just about my idea of heaven.
Last weekend I was visiting friends and family in Maryland & Virginia, and my college roommate Jessica brought me a loaf and a starter of Amish Friendship Bread, which I had never heard of. The bread was so tasty that it was pretty much devoured within 24 hours. The bread starter, though, looked like a ziploc-bag filled with glue.
Jessica gave me a printout with instructions to "mush the bag" every day for 10 days, and on the 5th day to add flour, sugar, and water. (Click here for recipe and instructions.) On Day 10, you add another round of flour, sugar, and water and then divide the starter into 4ths--one to keep and bake (makes 2 loaves) and 3 to give away.
Willing to do anything to have more of this amazing stuff, I actually packed the ziploc bag into my suitcase and flew it back to Oklahoma, where I faithfully "mushed the bag" and watched as it started to blow up like a balloon due to the fermenting yeast mixture:
I let the air out and watched it fill up again over the next day. Definitely a fun recipe to make with kids, or really juvenile adults like me. On the 10th day, I was pretty much salivating to get the batter mixed and into the oven. True to the recipe's promise, one cup of the starter mixture made 2 loaves of bread, or in our case, 2 servings. Seriously, there is no such thing as portion control with this stuff.
You could find a recipe for the starter online (which I did and made--see below) but the neat thing about this recipe is that it is theoretically started in one person's kitchen and then shared amongst several layers of friends and family. For example, as I was baking my bread, I knew that on the same day my best friends Jessica and Diane were baking theirs because we each had a portion of the same starter.
Now, in the spirit of Thanksgiving and slightly caught up in the pay-it-forwardness of this recipe, I decided to quadruple the starter recipe I found online so I could bring it back east with me over the holiday to share with friends and family. Mistake. English majors should not try to do big math, especially with sacred Amish secrets. I ended up with not 4, but TEN starter bags (and actually should have been 12, but 2 of the bags are fuller than the others). YIKES!
I have some lovely folks in mind that I am planning to pass some of these to, but now there will be no way for me to know how these all turned out down the road when the starter starts really getting passed around.
So. My plan is to hand out the recipe with this blog address. I'm hoping that whoever ends up with one of my original starters (made with love in my own kitchen!), they will come back to this post and leave a comment letting me know where their kitchen is in the world, how the bread turned out, and if they had any modifications or suggestions. It will be like our own little virtual Amish village. This leads me to add 2 addendums:
1. Just for fun, if you've made this recipe before, even if you don't receive one of MY starters, let us know how it went for you.
2. If you don't feel like searching the internet and want to know how I made my starter (I did make a few tweaks) just post a comment with your email address.