Effing Amish Friendship Bread

11 May

The other day my friend, Melissa, handed me a large ziploc bag filled with something that looked like glue.   She told me it was an “Amish Friendship Bread” starter and that I would need to “mush the bag” every day for 6 or so days, then on the 7th day add some ingredients and bake it.  “It tastes like cake,” she said.  “My kids loved it.”  (She had me at cake). The bag of glue came with a detailed sheet of instructions that I ignored. “Should be something fun to do with the boys,” I thought before tossing it on the counter and forgetting about it.

The next day my 10 year-old son spotted the curious bag, still full of glue and now also quite full of air. “What’s this?”   I told him what it was and asked if he wanted to help me “mush the bag” each day for the next few days until it was time to bake it.  “Sure,” he said as he looked over the instructions, “it says we’re supposed to let the air out.”  “Hmmm, I hadn’t noticed that.  That can be your job.”  For the next few days my son and I took turns letting the air out of the ever-ballooning bag and mushing it’s pasty contents.  I ticked off the days until Bake the Bread that Tastes Like Cake Day and was relieved to see that we would have all day Saturday to get it done.

Saturday morning dawned early and it was immediately apparent that the boys hadn’t had enough sleep.  By 7:00 am there had already been a few punches thrown and a few doors slammed and multiple declarations of war.  It was going to be a long day.

In order to curb their aggression, we tried to keep them busy:  chores, grocery shopping, lunch, cleaning up after lunch, making messes, cleaning up after messes, etc, etc.  They also spent a good portion of the day in the pool.  By the time we got everyone ready for our double-header at the Little League field, it was clear that all three boys were sunburned and exhausted.  When the first baseball game started it was over 100 degrees with an insistent breeze blowing that felt like Mother Nature had her super-sized blow dryer trained right on your face.  Nearly four hours later the games ended and we loaded our hungry, hot-pink, dust-coated brood into the car and headed home.  By the time everyone was bathed, fed, and tucked in bed, and the filthy uniforms were in the washer, and the kitchen was almost clean it was already after 9 o’clock.  “I’ll finally be able to put my feet up,” I thought as I wiped down the counter and loaded the last few dinner dishes in the washer.

CRAP!!!”  I exclaimed to no one in particular.  “Today’s the day I have to make that Amish Friendship Bread!”

Thinking it would only take a few minutes, I found the sheet of directions and preheated the oven.

OK, what do I have to do?  Let’s see, oh, I guess I’m not just baking the bread, but I have to parcel out the starter to give to other people. I got out 4 ziploc bags and dated each with a Sharpie. And what is this?  Oh geez.  It says in big letters “DO NOT PUT MIXTURE IN METAL BOWL!”  Gosh, there’s a lot to this…  Let’s see… ‘Add 1-1/2 cups each of sugar, flour and milk.’  I measured out the sugar and flour and dumped them in the bowl with the starter; then headed to the fridge where I discovered we were out of milk.

CRAP!!!”  I nearly shouted.  To the Amish in particular.  

“Honey?”  I sweetly addressed my husband who was hunched over a sandwich and seemed to barely be able to keep his head up off his plate he was so tired.  “How would you feel about going to the grocery for some milk?”

“Huh? Now? Can’t we get it in the morning?” he responded. (Quite rationally, I might add).

“Well, I kind of need it for this silly Amish Friendship Bread.  Would you mind?”

“OK” he sighed, pushing away from the table.  I have to say that my husband’s a rock star when it comes to last minute, inconvenient  trips to the grocery.

I figured I’d get everything ready so I could just dump the milk in and get it in the oven as soon as he got back.  “Man, there are a lot of ingredients to this stinking Amish Friendship bread…” I set about measuring baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, cinnamon, oil; cracking a few eggs… When I was done with each ingredient, I promptly put its container back where it belonged, priding myself on keeping a clean kitchen, even as I cook.   My husband arrived home as I was adding the final few ingredients.

CRAP!!!” I groaned.  To everyone residing in Pennsylvania Dutch country.

“What now?” my weary husband asked.

“It says I need 2 boxes of vanilla instant pudding!!!  We don’t have any instant pudding!!!”

Just then there was a long pause in the kitchen.

“Are you going to scrap it at this point… or are you going to ask me to go back to the store for 2 boxes of vanilla instant pudding?”  My husband asked slowly (but by the tone of his voice, I could tell he already knew how I would answer).

“Well… it’s just that I already have all the other ingredients in the bowl and it makes 2 loaves and it could be our dessert tomorrow.  (Long pause of my own) And tomorrow is Mother’s Day…”

“Whose school project is this anyway?” he wanted to know.  I guessed that he was trying to psyche himself up for the drive back to the store by clarifying which of his three sons’ academic success he was selflessly contributing to.

“Uh… Melissa’s?” I answered meekly, attempting a chuckle.

Is this like some sort of a chain letter?!” he demanded.  “You mean to tell me I’m headed out to the grocery store– for the second timeat 9:30 at night— for a chain letter…?!” I heard him grumble as he pulled his keys off the hook in the laundry room and headed out the garage door. “Well then, I guess I’d better go because if we don’t make the bread it will mean 7 years of bad luck!”

“Oh geez this is sort of ridiculous, and I am exhausted!”  I thought as I added the milk and grabbed a whisk and started to stir the concoction.

OH CRAP!!!” I bellowed.  (To all future generations of electricty-eschewing Amish people the world over.  And the horses that pull their buggies.)

A metal whisk!!  I was using a metal whisk!!

I yanked the whisk out of the bowl, slopping the now much-hated mixture all over the counter in the process.  When my husband returned with the pudding, I finished mixing with a plastic spoon, put all the ingredients away and wiped down the splattered counter.  All I had to do now was pour the batter into 2 loaf pans and stick it in the oven.  I thought. I got out the only two loaf pans I owned.

CRAP!! (To those carriage-riding, furniture-making, barn raising, technology-avoiding … and to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and…)

One was glass and the other was metal.  There was absolutely no way I was going to ask my husband to go back to the grocery store to purchase another glass loaf pan. Come hell or highwater or mysterious cake-ruining chemical reaction, I was going to pour the batter into the 2 pans I had, but first I checked the recipe one last time.  I wanted to see if there were any explicit warnings about explosions or corrosive metal cake poisoning, or…

CRAP!!!  For the love of  all things AMISH!!!!

What’s this!?!? Forget about the physical properties of the loaf pans!! Those Amish people with their crazy Old Testament names and Abe Lincoln beards don’t just pour batter in pans, apparently!!!   Nooooo… they get back out all the ingredients they just put away to keep their kitchens clean, and they mix sugar and cinnamon and dust the freaking loaf pans first!!!  Out come the measuring cups. Out come the sugar and cinnamon. I was so tired by this point, my vision was starting to blur.

Finally.  Finally. I got the pans dusted, the batter poured, and put it all in the oven.  It was 10 pm.  One last check of the evil Amish recipe told me that the god-forsaken Amish Friendship Bread would have to bake for ONE HOUR.

I wanted to kill myself.

No… I wanted to kill “my friend” Melissa.

When the resented loaves were finally pulled from the oven, and I’d had a good night’s sleep, and woke up to freshly baked cake/bread… I had to admit, it was really good, and my husband and the kids loved it.  But make no mistake.  If I happen to give you the starter for this Effing Amish Friendship Bread… I really must not like you very much at all…


5 Responses to “Effing Amish Friendship Bread”

  1. melissa May 11, 2009 at 9:03 pm #

    hilarious. arent you glad that we are friends!

  2. Kirstin May 13, 2009 at 4:45 am #

    Hilarious on many levels, but must point out…

    First of all…your husband is a saint for going out TWICE on a Saturday night on behalf of Penn. Dutch Country!

    Second of all…I always knew I wasn’t the “friendship bread” type, as I was the only 6th grader that thought chain letters were ridiculous & vowed to not take part in them!

  3. Joy May 13, 2009 at 2:11 pm #

    Hilarious! I was rolling on the floor! I’m so glad I don’t have Melissa for a friend :)! I wouldn’t have all of the ingredients – nor a husband willing to go get more !! Love ya! Can’t wait for your next post, Erma!

  4. jennapants May 13, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

    I treat Friendship bread the same way I treat door-to-door cults. “No thanks and be on your way.” No offense to the sweet and patient Melissas of the world, but it just seems unnatural to leave all those ingredients like EGGS and MILK in a ziploc on your counter. AND, it seems very UNamish, I might add, to use INSTANT pudding. Just saying…

    way to muscle through, you two!!!

  5. Natalee Josephs June 6, 2009 at 2:18 am #

    Ha, Ha, that is really funny. I was there, I think, when Melissa got her “really fun” friendship bread at a little league game. I said, wow, that looks really complicated, I can’t do it…with visions of what happened to you in my head! We all have limits! Anything with more than 3 instructions in the kitchen is mine!

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