The Making of Friendship Bread
I don’t deny my rookie status in the kitchen. I still play things very safe because I haven’t figured out what works and what doesn’t. So when Rebecca showed up with a bag of mix that required “smushing” and “feeding,” I was confused.
“I need to do what?! And it sits out? And doesn’t go bad??”
The bag contained a mix of ingredients (I only know that there was yeast involved) and it came with beautiful instructions that Rebecca had put together. The directions clearly stated what I needed to do on each day:
Day 1 – smush the bag / Day 2 – smush the bag / Day 3 – smush the bag / Day 4 – smush the bag
Day 5 – Feed the yeast! (1 c. flour, 1 c. sugar, 1 c. milk)
Day 6 – smush the bag / Day 7 – smush the bag / Day 8 – smush the bag / Day 9 – smush the bag
Day 10 – Feed the yeast! (1 c. flour, 1 c. sugar, 1 c. milk) Divide the starter!
I took one look at it and thought, “I’m going to be killed eating this.” (It wasn’t until later that my friend Deana pointed to sourdough bread as another example of this strategy in action.)
So apparently the milk that sits out for 10 days in this mix won’t kill you, who knew? Well I didn’t!
Day 10 came and I prepared myself for battle. That morning, Rebecca sent me an e-mail that simply said: “Seriously, 1 cup of oil and a box of pudding. No freaking applesauce. To hell with that hippie stuff.“
Being a dutiful apprentice, I did as I was told.
As I began feeding the yeast and dividing the starter, I realized that this process was going to leave me with 3 new bags of this mix! The point of this recipe is that you are supposed to hand them out to friends so that they can make their own friendship breads and then continue to pass out the starter bags to their friends, and so on, and so on. The process is reminiscent of those chain letters that threatened “pass it forward, or else!,” but much tastier 🙂
After the bags had been divided and my starter had been dumped into a bowl, I added 3 eggs, 1 cup of oil, 1/2 cup of milk, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and mixed. In a separate bowl, I mixed 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a box of chocolate pudding. I slowly added the dry ingredients to the wet mix and stirred. Lastly, I threw in a cup of chocolate chips and mixed.
By the time this was ready to go into a pan, I realized that there was a lot of batter. So instead of splitting it into loaf pans, I pulled out my bundt pan and poured the batter in. The pan went into a preheated oven of 350 degrees and sat for over an hour. I had originally set the time for an hour, but it wasn’t quite done. I’d say it was closer to 75 minutes (estimated) before the bread was ready to come out of the oven.
I was so skeptical. I am such a fool.
This bread was phenomenal. It wasn’t light or fluffy, but it’s not meant to be. It was dense with flavor and texture, and both Ian and I had seconds before the cake had even had time to cool off completely! The awesome thing about this recipe is that the possibilities are endless. Instead of chocolate pudding, you can add lemon, or butterscotch or something else! You can substitute the chocolate chips for nuts, or dried fruits, or diced apples. You can really get creative with the starter. The variations seemed too advanced for me initially, so I stuck closely to Rebecca’s instructions. Next time, I think I may dip my toe in that creative pool and see what happens.