Sunday, May 21, 2006

Amish Friendship Bread (or - How To Piss Off Your Friends)

My friend Kathy recently gave me a bag of this starter along with a much-copied mimeograph sheet of directions. I'd never heard of Amish Friendship Bread before, but several of the other women at our table had. Although they called it "Herman" and said they remembered it from their mothers. Since I didn't know anything about this bread I immediately headed to All Recipes to find see what I could find out. Not only did I find the starter recipe, I also found five recipes for using it. I also did a search for Herman and found the starter recipe for that as well as several recipes using it. It's different from this bread in that it's basically a sourdough bread with less sugar used in it. If you're interested just head on over there and type in "Herman" in the search bar.

Kathy gave me my starter on basically Day 6 so I (like the un-baker that I am) fed it according to directions and baked it right then. Don't do that. Please. They turned out - ummm- "dense". I'm not certain (Joe - enlighten me please) whether I could have just let it age the full 10 days and then baked it with good results. By feeding it on Day 6 you, uh, make it grow...and grow...and grow. At the end of the 10 days you have this monster that you have to do something with. That's where the "pissing off your friends" part comes in. You're supposed to take out 4 cups, put each in its own gallon freezer bag, label them and give them to your friends keeping the last cup or so for you to bake your bread with.

I don't know about you, but I don't know too many women who don't work. They have families, activities, volunteer and just generally don't have much time to mess with something for 10 days then screw around with it for another half a day just to get a couple of loaves of bread! So, thank you, Kathy.

So, because of this blog and because of my friends (on-line and otherwise), I've made the ultimate sacrifice and messed with this stuff for 10 whole days. The loaves are in the oven now and the other SIX one cup gallon freezer bags are in the freezer. Waiting for me to throw them out when I'm desperate for freezer space. Lets hope these loaves turn out better than the last ones did.

3 comments:

Joe Pastry said...

Sally? Sally? Can you hear me? It's Joe, Sally. Everything's going to be all right. I want you to put the bag down and then take several steps back. Slowly now... slowly... that's it. Good. OK, I'm coming in!

Oh my, my what a mess. You know Sally, these starters are wild creatures. You never know when one's going to turn on you. I'm just glad I got here in time to help.

So let's see now, where are we here? OK, if you got the starter on day six, it looks from the recipe that the starter needs three full days to rise. Which is to say, three days for the little yeast critters in there to eat flour and sugar and turn it into a) more yeast critters, and b) gas. But according to your post you didn't give the starter that growth time. You went right ahead and baked it, yes? Yes. Which means the small yeast population wasn't anywhere near up to the task of lifting your bread. Poor little things. They ask so little of us, Sally. Only to be nutured and cared for. And what did you do, you threw them into the deep end of the pool before they were even ready. Oh Sally. One day, after the yeast rights bill currently up in congress passes, such behavior will be criminalized. Until then, the only weapon we have to fight these types of abuses is shame. So...for shame!!!

Call me again if I can be of help.

- Joe Pastry

Joe Pastry said...

Sally? Sally? Can you hear me? It's Joe, Sally. Everything's going to be all right. I want you to put the bag down and then take several steps back. Slowly now... slowly... that's it. Good. OK, I'm coming in!

Oh my, my what a mess. You know Sally, these starters are wild creatures. You never know when one's going to turn on you. I'm just glad I got here in time to help.

So let's see now, where are we here? OK, if you got the starter on day six, it looks from the recipe that the starter needs three full days to rise. Which is to say, three days for the little yeast critters in there to eat flour and sugar and turn it into a) more yeast critters, and b) gas. But according to your post you didn't give the starter that growth time. You went right ahead and baked it, yes? Yes. Which means the small yeast population wasn't anywhere near up to the task of lifting your bread. Poor little things. They ask so little of us, Sally. Only to be nutured and cared for. And what did you do, you threw them into the deep end of the pool before they were even ready. Oh Sally. One day, after the yeast rights bill currently up in congress passes, such behavior will be criminalized. Until then, the only weapon we have to fight these types of abuses is shame. So...for shame!!!

Call me again if I can be of help.

- Joe Pastry

Sally said...

I KNEW you'd know the answer! Thanks, Joe - I promise never to abuse yeast again.