Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Our Time for Old Friends (and new)

Continuing on with my breadmaking/ baking/ general yeast obsession, I spent some of my sick leave trawling the internet for different recipes, things as a working woman I wouldn't usually have the time or the inclination to work with. I knew that I wanted to experiment a little with the idea of 'natural' yeasts and a little digging came up with 'Amish Friendship bread' which, oddly enough is neither Amish nor is it bread. No I'm not sure either.

The 90's equivalent of a chain letter (only minus any dire consequences for not passing it on), this recipe 'did the rounds' as it were with both the recipe and starter passed from friend to friend and a little online digging shows that even today it has its devotees. Basically the process is that you are given a starter (or in my case, make your own) and you spend ten days feeding and stirring this. Like any starter it smells very yeasty; of strong, slightly sour beer I found and it's important that it's kept in a warm place. This was harder than I imagined, as our house can be somewhat chilly at the best of times, and mid-January is not the best of times - it has worked however which is testament to the resilience of my starter *cough* or just blind luck! After the ten day process you then combine a portion of your starter into your loaf (or loaves), portion off 3 to pass on to friends, and are left with another final portion which enables you to start the process over again.

Today is my first day ten, so my first Friendship bread has been baked, well baked and grilled, but lets say no more of that shall we? Right, moving swiftly along... I followed the recipe I had to the letter, and ended up with a fairly dense cake, that most resembles a much lighter bread pudding (not bread and butter pudding, but the 70's favourite beloved in our house when we were children and my mum used her crock pot, a lot). However, from what I've read you can pretty much use your starter as a basis for any adaptation; bearing in mind that a lot of these recipes are American and rely on flavoured 'pudding mixes.' I think different spices, dried fruit and nuts, fruit purees and other additions like cocoa powder would all add different dimensions to the finished product.

What I really enjoyed about this recipe and process has been the time it has taken, as the famous poem says

"What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?"

So much in my life is done at speed, and one of the things I'm really learning to appreciate (well in truth, being forced to) whilst recuperating is that some things do take time, and actually there's something that takes you back to the basics of baking in working with a recipe that does take 10 days. I am really looking forward to passing my starter on to friends and family and working on variations of the recipe. It's actually something I could really see as being a fun project for children too and am thinking of ways to work it into our Guiding programme for Thinking Day - Guiding Friendship bread perhaps?

So there you have it, let's be retro and resurrect a 90's trend... Friendship bread.


Stage One - Feeding your starter

Important things to note about this is not to use any metal implements at all, so you need ceramic, wood or plastic spoons and bowls. I stored my starter in a tupperware with a vent, and kept it in the kitchen. Measurements are American quantities - I have cups so it's not a problem but usual convert with 1 cup equalling 250g.

Day 1 - receive the starter (the recipe for the starter is below)
Day 2 - stir
Day 3 - stir
Day 4 - stir
Day 5 - Add 1 cup each flour, sugar and milk.
Day 6 - stir
Day 7 - stir
Day 8 - stir
Day 9 - stir
Day 10 - Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.

Divide into 4 containers, with 1 cup each for three of your friends and 1 cup for your own loaves. As an aside here, I had enough starter for 3 cups for friends, 1 cup for my loaves and 1 cup to keep for my next batch.

Give friends the instructions for Day 1 through Day 10 and the following recipe for baking the bread.

Stage Two - making your bread

After removing the 3 cups of batter, combine the remaining cup of Amish Friendship Bread starter with the following ingredients in a large bowl:

2/3 cup oil
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup sugar
2 cups plain flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda

Using a fork beat by hand until well blended (I used my hand mixer)
You can add 1 cup raisins and 1 cup nuts (optional - I added 1 cup of sultanas that had been soaked in tea)
Grease two loaf pans with butter, sprinkle with sugar instead of flour.
Bake at 325 for 1 hour (don't start it off under the grill).
Cool 10 minutes, remove from pans.
Makes two loaves (in 2lb loaf tins) of Amish Friendship Bread.

Starter Recipe

7 g active dry yeast
60 ml warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
375 g all-purpose flour, divided
600 g white sugar, divided
710 ml milk

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes.
In a 2 quart container glass, plastic or ceramic container, combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or flour will lump when milk is added.
Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and dissolved yeast mixture.
Cover loosely and let stand until bubbly.
Consider this day 1 of the 10 day cycle. Leave loosely covered at room temperature.

Cake and Starter #2

Oh and today's song title is from Merrily We Roll Along, that I saw performed a few months back by Mountview Musical Theatre students. It is a beautiful performance piece, and Our Time is a stunning piece of music. I know I'm not normally at all obscure in my references, but as MT goes, Sondheim is pretty much god and this is no exception.

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

 photo copyright.jpg
blogger template by envye