Amish friendship bread popped up (so to speak) in a novel I read last week, reminding me of my own horrifying experience with it many years ago.  I’d just moved to Cleveland to teach high school and found a church I liked.  One of the women there gifted me with the makings of Amish friendship bread.

The principle is simple.  You have a sponge or starter, a live batch of dough.  Every ten days, you feed it by adding flour, milk and sugar. Then, as the Allrecipes recipe (which makes four cups) says: “Remove 1 cup to make your first bread, give 2 cups to friends along with this recipe, and your favorite Amish Bread recipe.”  Or you can bake the other two cups and give the loaves to two friends.  You put the last cup in the fridge and start all over.

In theory, what a great idea!  You have bread to eat, bread or starter to share, and your friends love you, at least until they realize the cycle you’ve locked them into.  Unless I planned to either eat most of the bread myself or throw it away, I was stuck.  The blasted starter just kept on growing.  It needed to be divided and baked.  I began to dread seeing it my refrigerator!  Worse, the tyranny of the Amish friendship bread  was starting to make me feel unpopular.  I didn’t have enough friends.  Even if I did, once I gave each of two friends starter every ten days or so, it wouldn’t be long until I’d have no friends at all!!  It had become my own Little Shop of Horrors.  I’m quite sure I could hear the starter calling, “Feed me.”

One day, I’d had enough. Heck with the guilt!  I took the starter in its plastic bag and dumped it the garbage.  That night I had a dream that when I woke, the starter had risen so high that it was coming out of the wastebasket.  I admit I actually checked in the morning, relieved to be reassured that it was just a dream.  Nevertheless, I was glad when garbage day came to set me free for good.

The moral of the story?  Sometimes you should look a gift loaf in the mouth, not put it in your mouth!  And if someone offers you Amish friendship bread, just say no.

  1. Bumba says:

    Good story. Sounds like one of the old monster movies.

  2. safia says:

    There are unlimited possibilities for a fictional story based on this idea. The Amish version of networking or pyramid selling perhaps? Lol.

  3. Penny L Howe says:

    Well you just took the concept of “breaking bread” together to a whole new level Janet, lol!

  4. I had this monster too , I’ve got it together with a “friendship-letter”. But this thingy became as big as a moutain… I felt guilty too, because I’ve got this darned letter with special instructions to take good care for the monster. Fortunately my husband made short shrift and gave the whole monster to a neighbor.

  5. Alastair says:

    Feed me, Seymor, Feed me now. Mwahahaha. “Rise Lord Baker” Use your loaf,

  6. yarrpirate says:

    Superb! But my my…what a metaphor for so many things!

  7. zookyworld says:

    What a lesson — I’ve never heard of Amish friendship bread, and so haven’t heard of the growing effect. That sounds like a wild dream, too!

    • Any bread that has a starter or sponge, such as sourdough, are like this. It definitely was a wild dream and even though I was 99% sure it was still quiescent in the wastebasket, I had to check!

  8. neenslewy says:

    Little fridge of horrors!

  9. yarnspinnerr says:

    A well stocked fridge can mean many things 🙂

  10. Aside from the overwhelming and unreasonable sense of guilt and malaise you fee from receiving an overabundance of the Lord’s bread (which is treatable in a therapist’s office with enough bread, or in this case, dough) –

    Have you visited your local dump site lately, where the “Bread of Dumpster Life” is still growing and small group of followers meet every 10 days chanting, “Give us this day our Janet bread – and a little sustainabilitea.”

    • I actually was thinking that if it were summer, the heat could make the starter rise in the dump. But since I didn’t know where the garbage ended up, I wouldn’t see it unless it had gotten big enough to take over part of Cleveland.

      I could have given a literary title to the post–“The bread also rises.” I’m sure Hemingway would have approved.

  11. I’d like to say something cute about this, but I think everyone else has posted all the jokes I can come up with, except maybe a simple “It’s ALIIIIVE!!” Very funny, and so true about bread starter.

  12. Sherry Galey says:

    You gave me quite a chuckle. Thanks!

  13. mpejovic says:

    Haha, a friend of mine gave me some starter and the recipe last year. When we tried it, the first thing I wondered was, why is this called bread when it’s a cake??? I did a few more loaves after that but we got tired of it very quickly. And I didn’t want to make my friends feel they were signing up for a pyramid scheme!

  14. This was charming. What a good giggle!