When I was a kid, we moved a lot. Not out of state, but to different cities and towns. As an adult, I’ve moved a lot as well. This time all over the country. Five states in six years.
That’s a lot of homes, friendships, jobs and connections.
I haven’t always done a great job with staying in touch with the people I’ve met over the years. Something about moving on and trying to make wherever I am home has always kept me looking forward, not back.
So, as I look toward my last few weeks in Maine — yes, it’s true, my husband and I are moving back to California — I can’t help but wonder what my connection to Maine will look like in the coming years.
Something big is different this time.
Maine is where we bought our first home.
Maine is where we had our first child.
Maine is where I started what is, arguably, my favorite job yet — writing for Homestead.
I’m not ready or willing to let Maine go quite yet. I want something to tie me here. And that’s exactly what Amish friendship bread can do.
A little yeast.
A little flour.
A little work.
And you have an everlasting loaf of bread — or at least the start of one.
According to the website, friendshipbreadkitchen.com, Amish friendship bread is about connections, friends and community — all things I’ve come to know and love in the nearly three years I’ve lived in Maine. It’s about not taking life too seriously and instead finding simple joy and pleasure in each moment.
Once you make a starter for Amish friendship bread, you can give it to three people, who then will take 10 days adding to the starter before splitting it in four and using a quarter to make their own bread. The other three-quarters will be passed on to friends who repeat the process. After the 10 days of kneading the bag of fermenting flour and water, the bread can be mixed and turned into essentially any type of yeast bread imaginable. Any time I’ve ever had it, it’s been loaded with cinnamon and sugar, but you also could add nuts or dried fruit.
The Amish friendship bread starter I made for this column will go to three friends, colleagues or acquaintances. They (hopefully) will keep it going and pass along three bags of starter to their friends.
In doing so, my little bag of flour and yeast will never truly leave Maine. I may be moving, but I have a feeling I’m leaving a big piece of my heart here in Maine.
Amish Friendship Bread Starter
Yields 4 cups of starter
1 package active dry yeast (about 0.25 ounces)
¼ cup warm water
3 cups flour
3 cups white sugar
3 cups milk
To make starter:
Dissolve yeast in water and let stand for about 10 minutes. In a 1 gallon freezer bag, combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar, stir thoroughly to avoid clumping later. Stir in 1 cup milk and yeast mixture. Mix thoroughly, seal and leave loosely covered at room temperature. This is Day One of the 10-day process.
Days 2-4: Stir with a wood or plastic spoon, reseal and let sit.
Day 5: Stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.
Days 6-9: Stir with a wooden or plastic spoon, reseal and let sit.
Day 10: Stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Use 1 cup to make bread, then give the rest to friends in 1-cup increments. Make sure to tell them to start the process over again beginning with Day Two.
To make the bread:
Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a glass or plastic bowl, add 1 cup vegetable oil, ½ cup of milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and three large eggs to 1 cup starter. Stir well and set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1½ teaspoons of baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 package instant vanilla pudding.
Add dry ingredients to wet and stir. Divide batter between two loaf pans. In a third bowl, mix ¾ cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Sprinkle sugar/cinnamon mixture over batter and bake for one hour.
Author’s note: This recipe was adapted from several recipes found online.