Tuesday, May 27, 2008

have a heart. eat some friendship bread.

Behold...the Friendship Bread. A dad of my piano students gave my mom a bag of the never-dying starter. Which is how I ended up with this lovely loaf of cinnamon-y goodness. I really do love Friendship Bread, though I have to admit, it is slightly disturbing that this recipe could, in fact, be never ending. This is because the starter, which is basically a really wet version of yeast, is split into four separate bags. Three of these bags are given to friends (hence the name), who are then also trapped in this never ending cycle of mushing and baking. The last bag is yours to keep, and you use the starter to create your own loaf of cinnamon-y goodness. Here it is in all its glory...

I spiced it up a bit by putting sliced almonds on the top. Also, I was all out of white sugar (and didn't want to steal all of Leah's :), so the sugar used for the topping was replaced with brown sugar. I'm supposing that it came out decent since my lovely testers, Leah and Katie, both claimed it to be delicious.

Though how the starter is actually made still remains a mystery to me, here are the directions for successful Friendship Bread production, if a bag of starter is ever sent your way:

Amish Friendship Bread
Good things come to those who wait...a 10-day process to yummy deliciousness.

Helpful Tips & Hints
- Do not use any type of metal spoon or bowl for mixing.
- Do not refrigerate batter.
- If air gets in bag, let it out.
- It is normal for batter to rise, bubble, and ferment.

Day 1: Do nothing to batter.

Day 2: Mush the bag.
Day 3: Mush the bag.
Day 4: Mush the bag.
Day 5: Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk. Mush the bag.
Day 6: Mush the bag.
Day 7: Mush the bag.
Day 8: Mush the bag.
Day 9: Mush the bag.
Day 10: Bake and separate!

On Day 10...
Pour the entire contents of the bag into a non-metal bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 cups white sugar, and 1 1/2 cups milk (soy milk works good too, by the way). Mix gently.

Measure out four separate batters of 1 cup each into four 1 gallon ziploc bags. Keep one starter for yourself, and give the other three to friends along with a copy of the recipe.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and grease 2 loaf pans, or spray with non-stick cooking spray. To your starter, add:
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 4-serving size box instant pudding (vanilla or butterscotch are delicious choices)

In separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Dust the bottoms and sides of the pans with half the sugar mixture.
If desired, add chopped walnuts or almonds to remaining sugar mixture. Pour batter evenly into the two pans, and sprinkle remaining sugar mixture over the top.

Bake 1 hour. Cool until bread loosens from the pan, about 10 minutes. Turn out into serving dish.

Some Ideas For Your Friendship Bread Surplus

- Friendship Bread is delicious both warm and cold. If you miss its warmness straight from the oven, heat some up in your toaster oven.
- Give it a French flair...make it into French toast!
- PB & BFB stands for Peanut Butter & Banana Friendship Bread. What else would be better between 2 slices of Friendship Bread than gooey peanut butter and sliced bananas? Not much. Stick it in the George (George Foreman grill) to make it ooey and gooey-er.
- And of course, Friendship Bread can magically transform into dessert! Warm it up, slab a hunk of vanilla (or cinnamon) ice cream on top, and then drizzle on some caramel and sprinkle on some sprinkles, if you're feeling bold.

p.s. Thanks, Leah, for the baking-blog inspiration. :)

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