To make a short story long. Here is the saga that continues regarding this treat called "Amish Friendship Bread"…although I wonder how something that contains vanilla instant pudding from a box comes from a people that don't cling to modern ways…
This particular recipe comes complete with cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top and used instead of flour in the greased pan, which, as it bakes, creates a bit of a crunchy surface, surrounding the uber moist flesh of the bread. Once you start making the batter, the house is filled with a delicious aroma, akin to scent that comes from making Snickerdoodles. Don't you want some yet?
On our way to CHA, Monday January 25th, 2010, Megan and I went to pick up Teresa, who was hitching a ride. (The trip is so much nicer if you can use the carpool lane so we forced her to join us!) While loading the car, she brought out this small loaf of some sort of sweet-looking bread, which we promptly packed into our bag of snacks and didn't see it again until we were on our way home on Wednesday. I nibbled on the bread, but decided to save a little for the family to try when I got home. I think that it was a couple of days later that Teresa showed up on my doorstep with a gallon size Ziploc baggie with some sort of goo in it and a sheet of paper. She said that the little loaf she had given me was Amish Friendship Bread and that this was a start, it was "Day 6" and she had already added the ingredients for the day. She told me to mush the bag every day and that the instructions for what to do on "Day 10" were on the sheet of paper. I carried the start right to the frig, put it in and put the recipe on the side and did not give it another thought until "Day 10"…when closer observation would reveal that you are not supposed to refrigerate your start. I quickly called Teresa to ask her what to do. She said that she had another start that she hadn't given away yet and I was welcome to come and get it. This was to be the "start" of something BIG…bigger than me and a bigger headache than I could imagine! Thanks a lot, Teresa! She didn't bother to tell me that people would run away screaming and pulling their hair out of their heads at the mere mention of Amish "Scare your Friends Away" Friendship (?) Bread! There…I've got a new name for it! It will now be named, at least at my house, "Scare Your Friends Away" Bread.
In the quest to figure out where this all fits in the scheme of things, or rather a "busy Mom, Relief Society President, community organizer (okay…it's what I do without pay) and friends' " life that could not be run by a mess of ziploc baggies all over my already over-cluttered kitchen, I went to my cheap and easy to work with research assistant, Google. It really is wonderful once you figure out how to use it! Anyway, scrolling through the webpages devoted to this subject, I was both confused and enlightened. There are so many different recipes, methods and levels of commitment regarding the dreaded "start". Drawing from the wisdom of many, I have formulated my own plan of attack. One website had lots of wisdom on how casual you could actually be with your start. Another one suggested freezing the start. This made an immense amount of sense since bread dough that is frozen will rise perfectly as it defrosts, so freezing doesn't hurt the yeast, which is part of the original start if you make it totally from scratch. Another had storage options to use instead of the gallon Ziploc. So after baking 8 loaves of bread and freezing 6 starts, my plan is as follows:
Day One: the day that it all begins…or is it? If you have been growing, or fermenting your start, you are at Day 10, which will soon begin again, becoming Day One. Empty the 10 day old start into a glass or plastic bowl - remember! Never mix your start in a metal bowl or with a metal spoon! Add 1 1/2 cups of milk and 1 1/2 cups sugar to the bowl and mix until smooth. Here is where I have made my plan. If you intend to bake a batch of bread (2 loaves), you need one cup of the mixture. If you want to bake 4 loaves, you need two cups, etc. So measure, in 1 cup increments, the new start mixture into individual bowls, for the number of batches you are going to bake that day. If working on this bread thing isn't going to be convenient for you in the next 10 days, put the rest, or all of the new 1 cup start mixtures into individual Ziploc bags, 1 cup in each, and mark them Day One (you can include the actual date so you know when it made its way to your freezer).
Since I don't want to have to wait 10 days every time I want to make this bread, I will put one cup into a gallon-size Ziploc freezer bag – this will be my way of designating that this is to grow a start…the others I will put into quart-size freezer Ziplocs. I will know from their size that they are just to be defrosted and made into bread. At this point, since I haven't been trying to pawn off my "starts", if I have someone begging me for another chance that they have passed on before, they will need to transfer the quart bag into another container to leave room for adding the other ingredients on Day 6 and also to allow room for the gas to build up and be released as the mixture ferments. But I am determined to take the "Scare Your Friends Away" out of the Amish Friendship Bread and make it work for my lifestyle and baking schedule. You can too! Served warm with a little, or a lot of butter is best!
Here's the recipe for those fortunate enough to get a start from me…I will find out how to do it from scratch soon!
While you don't mix your start in a metal bowl with a metal spoon or wisk, once you are working with the batter for the bread you can. This made life so much easier because it is a very thick, heavy batter and it is easier to get the batter smooth with a wisk.
Another tip: When you are preparing on Day Six to add the flour, sugar and milk, mix the dry ingredients together (still NO METAL) first, then add the milk and try to get it well mixed before adding it to the start in the Ziploc: the lumps just seem to be easier to mix this way. Also, when you are going to actually make the bread batter, mix all the dry ingredients together first before adding to the liquids.
Here's to a successful friendship with the bread that never ends!
One of these days I'm going to try the metal: goal? To find out if it is because of tradition or if it actually makes a difference.