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Circle of Friends(hip Bread)

Posted Nov 24 2010 6:57pm
"Oh my gosh," Pamela exclaimed, as she rushed into my classroom yesterday afternoon, "Have you eaten lunch yet?"

We were having a "Soup-and-Salad"* potluck luncheon in the staff lounge for lunch, and she had clearly just come from dining.
*"Soup-and-Salad" translated to soup-and-salad-and-bread-and-crackers-and-fruit tray-and-veggie platter-and-casserole-and-cookies-and-other assorted desserts. And Diet Coke. There was Diet Coke involved.

"No, I haven't."
"Oh my goodness," she replied,"you have GOT to try the Amish Cinnamon Friendship Bread. Seriously, I have been going around telling everyone in the school to eat it and trying to find out who made it."
"Oh my goll..."I laughed,"I made that!"
It appeared I had found someone to take one of the starters in the circle of friendship bread upon which I had embarked.

I better back up a minute.

So, last weekend I had received a starter for Amish Cinnamon Friendship Bread. It's like a chain letter*, but for baking.

*Anyone else read this book in middle school? No? Just me? Cool.
You basically take care of the starter for ten days, essentially just "mushing the dough" [yes, those are the exact directions] for that whole time, adding flour, sugar, and milk on the fifth day, and then dividing up and baking the starter on the tenth day. I wish, in retrospect, I had taken a picture of the process...I nearly spilled half of the fermented starter all over the counter in my attempts to divy it up among four new Ziplocs to pass along, and then, when baking my bread, I almost overflowed the mixing bowl while trying to get an entire cup of vegetable oil to incorporate. [Yes, I did say an entire cup of vegetable oil.] It was awesome.

Almost as awesome as this bread tastes. Seriously, it is so moist and delicious. As my roommate said, "It looks so simple, and then you eat it...and you are like, whoa..." [We are very articulate in our apartment.] The recipe ends up with you having two HUGE loaves, so I was lucky to have a teacher potluck to take one to; the other is in our kitchen right now...although we've made quite a dent in it. My favorite part is the cinnamon-sugar topping that ends up on both sides of the bread. Or in the bottom of the pan, causing you to think you've had an epic fail when you flip over the pan to pop the bread out. But no worries, just delicious cinnamon-sugar. Which of course, I ate. So did my roommate, who described it as "sugar...cinnamon....toffee...sugar....yum...." [Again, we are very articulate.] Fun little friendship bread. I like this idea. Of course, it was a little more stressful than I thought it would be, since you have to bake it on the specific date or else you wreak the wrath of the Amish sending you curses from Pennsylvania (holla at my homeland!*). I actually had to substitute some vanilla soy milk on day five because I didn't have quite enough regular milk. And then you also have to deal with the bags that expand intensely overnight as the starter starts to ferment...every day before "mushing" I had to let out the air. And then I accidentally blew up one of the bags. So instead of two starters...I had just one. Oops. :)

*For real, yo. I grew up about 45 minutes east of Lancaster. This kind of makes me want to start a starter for Sourdough.

And yes, the blog post title describing that endeavour will be "Start Me Up!"

Thank you Mick Jagger.
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