Fake Amish Friendship Bread

Last week was the school’s annual mission’s conference, which means we have many guest missionaries on campus. The goal is that students get to interact with them as much as possible, so in the mornings before the main sessions, there is a breakfast spread with coffee and breads, muffins, and pastries. Faculty are asked to contribute if possible. Faculty are also asked to participate in evening adventures; I was exhausted going into the week and already had two evenings full, so to assuage my guilty conscience for not being available in the evenings, I agreed to do a bunch of baking (sorta forgetting how much time it takes to bake).

I did realize that I had bitten off more than I could bake, but fortunately, that’s when I saw the coupon for our local grocery store. Their 20 packs of chocolate chip cookies were $2 each. Since it costs about that much to buy just the chocolate chips for a batch of cookies, I took the grocery store up on their gracious offer. And, then I mostly cheated for the seven loaves of breakfast bread. Here’s the evidence of that.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAHowever, I couldn’t do all that baking and not try one single new recipe. How unconscionable.

I decided that I would make fake Amish Friendship Bread. If you’ve never tasted Amish Friendship Bread, then I’m sorry to hear that. It is amazing bread. However, the catch is that it’s typically made with a starter. So, if you have the starter in your kitchen, you can make the bread every 10 days. In between baking days, you have plastic bags of starter that you have to knead and add ingredients to. You also have to release the air from the bags, or they will explode all over your kitchen drawer. Just speaking from experience here.  I liken this bread to manna. When someone first gives me the starter, I’m so glad to have it back in the kitchen. I eat it daily for breakfast and even as a snack. After maintaining the starter for a few cycles and eating it everyday for breakfast though, I start to cry out, “All I can see is this friendship bread. Is there nothing else for my daily sustenance?” Also, I start to burn through flour at an obscene rate.

I haven’t researched why it’s called friendship bread; I used to think that it was because the starter was passed from friend to friend. Now I wonder though if maybe friends act together to keep the bread alive. One person cooks it until they are sick of it, and then another person takes over for a month or two. At any rate, it’s clear that though this bread is delicious, the maintenance of the starter is a real drawback. That’s why I was excited to find a recipe that promised to replicate the taste of the bread without the necessity of the starter. I’ll be honest; I don’t think it was an exact copy though I would want to throw in a box of pudding next time because my family often did that to flavor the bread, and that would make a difference. However, the recipe still yielded some delicious bread that was pretty close to the original, and given the elimination of the whole starter process, I forgive the recipe for not being exact. I’d make it again. Another plus is that it makes two generous sized loaves of bread, so there is quite a lot to show for the effort.

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