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Amish friendship “bread” gone wild March 30, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. I informed our friend Ben (over howls of protest) that it was time to take a break from the One-Ben Awards and give the rest of us a chance to get a word in edgewise. Besides, as I delicately pointed out, our friend Ben is on deadline, and it’s rather important to at least occasionally devote one’s self to something that could pay a few bills. So, our friend Ben, in the words of Plutarch the Parrot, “To work!”

Needless to say, we did not teach our yellow-naped Amazon parrot to order us around in this manner. We suspect that he spent too much time listening to the pet-store manager yelling at his staff before we found him. But whatever the case, even umpteen years later, we’re often greeted, inevitably after a particularly long and grueling day, with shrieks of “To work! To work! Get back to work!!!” followed by an assessing look and the pronouncement, “You look green.” Why thanks, Plu. You really know how to make a girl feel good.

Moving on from parrot-related insults, it’s time for an update on Amish friendship “bread” (in quotes because it’s actually a rich, delicious cake). You may recall from my earlier post, “Amish friendship ‘bread’,” that a couple of weeks ago our friend Ben and I allowed nostalgia to overwhelm what little sense we jointly possess, and accepted a bag of yeasted batter and directions for eventually turning it into the dreaded Amish friendship cake.

The directions instruct you to place the bag on the kitchen counter and squeeze it for five days to give the yeast a chance to do its work. But our friend Ben and I were about to depart for a week’s vacation in North Carolina, so I stashed the bag in the refrigerator instead. Admittedly, I felt few qualms about this, since Amish friendship bread’s reputation for replication is such that I felt that nothing short of a direct nuclear strike would shut it down for good.

When we returned from a lovely week off, I retrieved the bag of batter and placed it on the kitchen counter. Our friend Ben and I watched and squeezed it dutifully for five days, looking for signs of life. (Actually, our friend Ben insisted on doing most of the squeezing, a bit more enthusiastically than I thought was strictly necessary.) Finally, yesterday I was able to do something a bit more rewarding. Following instructions, I added a cup each of flour, sugar, and milk, to give the yeast something to work with. Our friend Ben squeezed the bag a few more times to mix the new additions into the existing batter, and we put the bag at the back of the kitchen counter.

After this excitement, our friend Ben trundled off to the greenhouse to do some puttering and muttering. I came in to the home office to write awhile on the computer. The dog and cats positioned themselves around me and promptly went to sleep. The bag of Amish friendship batter was forgotten. Forgotten, that is, until some time later when I heard a strange plopping, thumping noise coming from the direction of the kitchen. “Plurp!”

I headed off to investigate. Sure enough, the bag of Amish friendship batter had somehow dragged itself clear across the counter and leapt onto the floor. (Mercifully, the bag was unbroken.) Bemused, I replaced it on the back of the counter and went back to writing.


Oh my God. It’s ALIIIIVE!!!!!!!!!

Now, it’s true that Amish friendship batter technically is alive, since it contains live yeast. But no one I know of has ever suggested that it’s also mobile. As of this writing, I have the bag of batter barricaded behind two packages of cornmeal. So far, it hasn’t managed to escape. I’ll keep you posted.

                             ‘Til next time,



1. deb - March 30, 2008

I have not laughed this hard this early in the morning in a long long time. Mine has hissed at me when the bag was not completely closed and threatened to explode a couple of times, but it has never moved.

Well, it gave me a turn for sure! I had visions of its plopping slowly across the floor, making its way towards the home office to wreak a terrible revenge for being repeatedly squeezed like that…

2. Nancy Bond - March 30, 2008

Thanks for the smile — and let us know how the “bread” turns out!

Thanks, Nancy! At this point, I’m almost afraid to think!

3. kate - March 30, 2008

Hi Silence,

If this happened to me, I would definitely look to my dog … he has an amazing ability to move things about on the kitchen counters. Anything remotely related to food attracts him … you’d think after 7 years, we’d have figured out not to leave anything edible on the counter.

I’ve never heard of this bread (or cake) … I’m curious to see if it travels any further! Or if it tastes good once baked!

Hi Kate! And thanks for stopping by! Mercifully, our golden retriever Molly (despite living for food like all goldens) only pulled something off the counter once (a stick of butter I was softening for pound cake, which she ate, wrapper and all). Since she was sleeping behind me when the plurping incidents occurred, I know she was innocent. As for Amish friendship “bread,” it’s actually delicious cake. And from what I’ve been hearing since I first posted about inheriting the bag of batter, it’s far more widespread than I thought. If you’re really curious, ask around–I’ll bet someone near you is just dying to give away a few bags! But, um, better keep an eye on it once you’ve gotten it home…

4. Betsy Stevens - March 30, 2008

Hi Silence,
That stuff ferments if you ignore it, kinda like a vintage jailhouse rotgut. A friend gave me some AFB starter many years (decades) ago, and after too many batches of delicious moist cake (thank goodness for teenagers’ appetites) I did a little compost pile experiment with my excess blocks of frozen starter. Somewhere along the line my original bottle of AFB on the counter ‘disappeared’. Relief. But never fear, we are never without frozen blocks of shredded zucchini the key ingredient in my delicious moist zuke bread. Enjoy!

Ha Betsy! Someday I’ll have to write about how incredibly wonderful zucchini bread is, and how you might as well be eating chocolate brownies, given the caloric content, unless you’re really really good and use applesauce instead of the oil. Why oh why are so many of our favorite foods also the ones that are “bad”?!!

5. kerri - April 1, 2008

Oh yes, I’ve been down that road! In fact there’s an ancient starter still in the freezer that I should dispose of before it breaks its way out…now that I know how mobile it can be.
I’m enjoying your humorous writing very much 🙂
Thanks for visiting and saying hello. Those Merlin Blue Petunias were gorgeous, especially with the white calibrochoa.

Thanks, Kerri! And yes, that batter can really run amok. Best to keep an eye on it…

6. Kat - May 7, 2008

Today is my first day with the AFB. A friend handed it off to me at school and I don’t know what to do with it! Is it worth all the trouble and how can I keep it from moving during the day if I’m not there?

Ha! Don’t worry, Kat! Just stick it at the back of the counter–hopefully it’ll behave itself! As for whether it’s worth it, I’d suggest that you try it and see what you think. It makes a wonderful coffeecake-like loaf, and fortunately you can try all sorts of variations, like slicing in bananas before baking. If you decide you don’t like it, no need to make more! And even if you love it, if maintaining it becomes a bore after awhile, you can always feeze some starter until you’re ready to make some more. Good luck with it!

7. Nancy Luce - May 15, 2008

You don’t know me, but I was looking for the recipe for the starter batter, when I ran across your site.I love this bread and was handed a bag of it 5 days ago. The last time I made this bread was about 16 years ago. Needless to say, I was excited to recieve a batch again. Over the years I have looked for the starter recipe many times, but without luck. I am not very good on the computer/internet, so finding your site thrilled me. I pray I can find it again because I don’t know how I found it in the first place. If you could help me I would really be greatful. If not thank you for your time.
Have fun cooking,
Nancy L.

Hi Nancy! Thanks so much for the kind comments! I agree, Poor Richard’s Almanac isn’t the easiest blog to find. The web address is https://ourfriendben.wordpress.com/. I’ll try to e-mail it to you as well. Hope the friendship bread is as good as you remember!

8. Tina - August 17, 2008

My last encounter with amish bread ended with GREEN chocolate cherry bread!
I forgot about the metal thing………and cooking it in a metal loaf pan (mistake number one….BIG ONE) plus I bought some jarred cherries and cut in half. Boy, the the top of that baby look and SMELL delicious! Unfortunately, from the top half down it was a dark green color. Even if the top half was edible………..I lost any desire for it when seeing the shocking green lower half.
Lesson learned.
Also, I found you can cut back on the last addition of sugar by half and use “no sugar added” pudding so its not sickly sweet.

Mercy, Tina, dark green bread! Ack!!! That must’ve been a shock and then some. Great suggestions about the sugar and pudding; I’ll try that. Thanks!!!

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