Resist the natural urge to refrigerate

Does anyone want a starter? For Amish Friendship Bread? Anyone?

A little more than a week ago I became an unwitting party to this baking chain, having been the recipient of one of the (many upon many, I’m sure) currently circulating Ziploc bags full of fermenting something-or-other. The bag was placed in my possession by a writing buddy and frequent visitor to this very blog, so I couldn’t in good conscience turn it down. She knows what I get up to in my kitchen, and so to utter a “thanks, but no thanks,” would have gone against my very reason for being.

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And so I took the bag – sucker that I am – because after all, I’m two solid months into my (all together now) bread-baking year. Accompanying the bag was a set of nicely detailed instructions in a kindly font outlining for me the daily practice of “mushing” the bag and advising me to “resist the natural urge to refrigerate.” I did my dutiful, daily mushing, adding the Day 6 cupfuls of flour and milk and so forth until today – Day 10, a.k.a. Baking Day.

But with my oven still out of commission, and in the true spirit of this bread – this starter passed around under the guise of friendship – I called a friend. Tiff allowed me and my kids to burst in on her afternoon and use her operating oven. Not only that, she actually allowed me to foist a Ziploc bag of starter on her.

I am, however, laden down with three more (count ‘em) starters, because as we know, they multiply.

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Apparently, it’s like a monkey on your back (so would it more appropriately bear the name Monkey Bread?) because I’m hard pressed to dispense with these other starters. No one’s knocking down my door for their due portion of my cupfuls of flour and milk and sugar, because they know what it means. They know that taking a bag is making a commitment, and what happens if they fall short on their part of the bargain? What if they forget to mush, or forget what day they’re on? That’s a lot of pressure. Isn’t that an awful lot to ask of a friend?

Even my mother-in-law turned down a starter, and she fits precisely the Amish Friendship Bread demographic. I mean, she plays bridge and owns an RV, for crying out loud.

I’ve decided this experience is really a bit of a sociological study of the workings of friendship: (1) A good friend thinks you worthy enough of this responsibility by bestowing upon you a bag of the fermenting yeast, flour, milk & sugar. (2) Then more good friends willingly take on the responsibility, the starter progeny, out of a friendly obligation, and because they would hate to hurt your feelings. (3) Family members who really don’t want to get involved are just that – family, not friends. They don’t give a hoot if they hurt your feelings by declining a starter.

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I suppose the concept is a nice one, harking back to days when women had the time and wherewithal to bake a loaf for a neighbor, for a friend who had just given birth. And the idea of putting a little of yourself into something and passing it along is certainly worthwhile.

And by calling on Tiff to use her oven, I one-upped that ask-a-neighbor-for-a-cuppa-flour tradition. It was good to have a friendly face around when the bread didn’t rise exactly, when it fell apart upon being sliced, and when we decided it was more coffee cake-ish than quick bread-like. But as neither of us had had it before, it didn’t matter. It couldn’t have been more suitable to share a slice in the sunshine with a friend (oh, yeah, I was done with the mushing stuff yesterday – no more mushy-mush! Promise).

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9 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Brittney said,

    And I have 5 more if you find homes for yours! 🙂

  2. 2

    Tiff said,

    So, can I give you one of my starters once I’ve completed the “30 step” process or is it an unspoken rule that as the original giver you can not be given back to?
    I thought the bread was delish! I’m glad your oven was broke so we could partake together! But, now I know your true intentions, you just needed to give away a starter! JK! Thanks for sharing friend!

  3. 3

    Trisha said,

    If you give one back to me, I’ll just give one back to you — what comes around, goes around (watch out, vicious cycle!). And I swear, my intentions were pure, and I’ll be forever grateful to you for taking a starter! It’s the mark of true friendship!

  4. 4

    Tiff said,

    Hey! I made 2 pans of Amish Friendship bread last night! They’re tasty little loaves of bread, but I will be passing on all 4 starters! I don’t want to be making that bread every 10 days, and the sugar quantity- ouch!

  5. 5

    Elaine Parry said,

    Been there, done that. However the bread is good.

  6. 6

    My oven was out of commission for months! The broiler worked though, so after the first month or so I was burning everything just to use my oven!

    I have never tried Amish Friendship Bread, and though I would love to–I do not need to get stuck with a bunch of starter bags… 🙂

  7. 7

    Lizzy said,

    I experimented and learned that if you do not add the additionals on day 10 (where you add 1 or 1/2 c flour, milk and sugar) and distribute to 4 days, and just go staight to the baking instructions, you can avoid the multiplying starters and have your own loaves of bread 🙂

  8. 8

    Lizzy said,

    whoops that distribute to 4 days was supposed to say 4 bags

  9. 9

    Trisha said,

    Lizzy: Thanks so much for sharing this tip. That is very good to know.


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