Monday, July 26, 2010

All's Fair in Love and Bread

My snazzy friend Madame Holly casually hooked me up a few weeks ago with a ziploc bag of nondescript goo, and a sheet of instructions for Amish Friendship Bread.

I had heard of Friendship Bread, but never before been the lucky recipient of a bag of starter. I can't imagine why, as this kind of thing is totally up my alley. However it happened, Madame Holly wins the distinction of being the first to share the love with me.

She is also the kind of person who is totally up my alley, as she turned around and asked me for a return batch of starter. I love anyone who is cool enough to play with and share dough starter, yet not afraid to admit to having somehow lost track of her own.

Each batch of Friendship Bread starter bubbles and grows on the counter for 10 days before baking day. On baking day, four new starters are created, and the rest goes into dough that makes a lovely sweet coffeecake kind of bread. I am now bubbling third-generation starter on my counter. I have given away 3 loaves of bread and 7 bags of starter. I have also eaten about 5 loaves of bread mostly by myself. This weekend alone I ended up baking three days in a row.

Good glory, this stuff makes a lot of stuff.

As I looked at the recipe, I couldn't help deciding ways to modify the recipe to make it less decadent. It's what I do. So I cut the amount of sugar in half, substituted fruit puree for half the oil, and used a small box instead of a large box of pudding. The first time I used banana puree and banana pudding. It tasted like an elegant variation on banana bread. The second time I used vanilla pudding and peach puree. That was my favorite so far, but I adore peaches so I'm not surprised. The third batch included mixed-berry puree and a full cup of frozen blueberries and dewberries, resulting in a blueberry muffin taste with lots of crunchy seeds.

It took me almost three weeks, but I finally returned Madame Holly some starter yesterday. As I was discussing my fruit-infused variations with her, she told me she googled other variations and came up with ways to make it more decadent. She's terribly cool like that. Once she mentioned chocolate chips, there was nothing for it but to try it myself.

I went home and whipped up a batch using white chocolate pudding, white chocolate chips, almond oil, and 1/2 cup of finely chopped almonds. I served it up warm for dessert, topped with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce. Great day in the mornin', talk about a sugar rush!

Thankfully, today brings on a bit of a lull in my bread-venture. I have three more starters to pass out, and five loaves of bread to distribute somewhere. It could be to my own tummy, but seriously. I put a lot of work into maintaining this fine physique, and moving over to bread from 3 Musketeers as my 4pm treat might upset the balance.

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