by Carol Dunn
HUERFANO- Amish Friendship Bread has come to Huerfano County. Although I grew up near Amish Country, I never heard of AFB until I moved to California. When you first receive a “gift” of AFB starter, it is very flattering. You have been selected as a special friend of someone who has nurtured and mushed the starter for ten days – a noteworthy investment. The starter is like a living thing that you, too, will tend and mush and add ingredients to. The starter DNA, if it is the same starter that Eve used in the Garden of Eden, is quite old and must be honored.
I’m not so sure the reticent Amish actually came up with the Friendship Bread idea, which is the baker’s version of a chain letter. In this age of instant everything, it is a big commitment to accept a plastic zip-shut bag of starter. After all, you can’t be away from home when the starter needs to be mushed. You must own a wooden spoon. You must have three zip-shut bags. You must have flour, sugar and milk (that isn’t curdled) at the ready. And then, worst of all, you must remember which day it is – day five or day six? Mush the bag or add stuff? If you are unfamiliar with AFB, you will be WAY familiar by the time you’ve gone through one or two cycles of nurturing the starter, increasing its size, then dividing it up among three of your special friends. And the next time around, you’ll need to choose three different friends, because the first three friends are already trying to give away starters to three of THEIR friends. As you can see, this can quickly develop into a Pyramid Scheme of epic proportions.
What if your friends turn you down – you know, they’re busy picking mud out of their horse’s hooves or something really important? Contrary to warnings of having a hex descend upon you, you CAN freeze your AFB starter. It never freezes solid and resumes doing whatever it does as soon as it warms up. So you can KEEP all of the starters and use them over the next few months, saving many friendships in the process.
When you finally get around to using the starter, the cake-like bread is delicious, but so rich that it takes some practice to bake a loaf that doesn’t collapse when removed from the oven. Add flour. Calorie counters, save yourselves and don’t even start down the starter path. Each slice of AFB has a full day’s recommended allowance of calories. And if, by this time, you are not convinced and would like to try AFB for yourself, please email me at TheDunes1@gmail.com. I happen to have four bags in my freezer.