A friendship is started
Monday, October 26, 2009 | 10:36 AM ET
By Elizabeth Bridge, CBC Digital Archives
Baking is something I've always done for one of two reasons: because I need to (I've agreed to bring cheesecake to a potluck, or I must be sure exactly what's in my morning muffin) or because I want to (I came across an appealing bread recipe, or I just felt like making cookies).
Until this week, I've never baked something because it was on a schedule. But that changed after my colleague brought in a plastic container of sourdough starter and a recipe for something I'd never heard of: Amish Friendship Bread. For over a week I dutifully followed the instructions that came with the yeasty mixture, stirring it once a day and adding ingredients at prescribed intervals. On Day 10, the sourdough's schedule demanded that I bake the bread. Whether I wanted to or needed to mattered not.
A bowl of sourdough starter and the Amish Friendship Bread it spawned.
Amish Friendship Bread is something like a chain letter: the starter is passed to you, and after adding your own ingredients, you are expected to pass on more starter and the recipe to a friend. Some versions of the recipe claim you need the starter to make the bread, because the Amish jealously guard the method for making it. But glance at the recipe and it's pretty clear the Amish aren't behind this phenomenon: among the ingredients is packaged vanilla pudding mix.
Precision baking it isn't. Amish Friendship Bread (which is more like a cake) would appeal to novice bakers or non-bakers, because it's hard to get wrong.
Lacking any flavour of pudding in my pantry, I plugged "Amish Friendship Bread" into Google to find variations. They are legion (different flavours of pudding, added nuts or fruit, baked in a bundt pan), which made me confident that I could add or subtract almost anything and the bread would still turn out. In the end, I had two loaves of a sweet, dense, lightly spiced bread that made good french toast.
I also had three spare containers of starter. Now I just need to find some friends who want to do some baking next week.
Have you ever tried making Amish Friendship Bread? What variations worked for you?
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About the blog
From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.
About the writers
Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.
Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.
Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.
Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).
Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.
Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.
Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.
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- Tuesday, October 20, 2009
- Fighting world hunger
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