Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Amish Friendship Bread: Neither Amish nor, Technically, Bread

"But it's full of friendship," you say.

True, couldn't be truer. And it's a great thing to serve your friends, they'll be very very happy with you. My overall feelings about Amish Friendship Bread are mixed, though cumulatively positive.

Let's talk about the recipe/instruction sheet. While the finished product was very good, the instructions were kind of...odd. Not hard to follow, just...odd. While I really liked the repeated admonition to mush the bag, a lot of the rest seemed unnecessary. For starters (get it? see what I did there?), I don't understand why this recipe requires a 10-day fermentation, when it is a quick bread raised by baking powder and baking soda. What does the starter do for it? Flavor? Inconclusive.

Also, there were certain cryptic elements that never made it to the surface. Why, for instance, is it imperative to never never never touch the batter with any metal implements, nor bowl nor spoon nor measuring cup? Does it ruin the flavor? (No, I ignored the direction.) Does it interfere with some chemical reaction? (As pointed out above, the starter is chemically meaningless to the bread/cake.) Do the Amish avoid metal? Not that I know of.

Which brings me to my final point illustrating the mildly bogus nature of this recipe: Amish??? Really? The recipe includes instant vanilla pudding, folks. This seems very un-Amish. I have a sinking feeling that the whole chain letter and its pseduo-arcane instructions are a cruel imposition on the Amish way of life.

All this scoffing led me to ignore a crucial point the first time I mixed the bread, on Saturday. As Jill immediately and sadly noted, I had forgotten to line the bread pans with cinnamon sugar and cover the loaves with a coat of same. It was very good all the same, but I remedied the situation last night with two more sparklingly sugary loaves, using the leftover batter that I am not passing on, and leaving out the vanilla pudding (no noticeable difference).

I did save one starter mush bag for anyone who wants to venture into the world of the 'Amish.' Just let me know, it's in my freezer. Thanks, Tater.

1 comment:

Donald said...

my high school choir teacher got one of those amish friendship bread things and ended up making loaves of zucchini bread for years with it. when you were a senior, you got a loaf for your birthday. i don't know if it was really good, or if it was more the folklore surrounding it, but i have fond memories of that bread.