One crazy pandemic-induced hobby is baking bread. Well, for other people, not for me. I baked bread for my 4-H project in fifth grade, washed my hands of bread-baking and never looked back.
Another “bread” craze that I went through in the 1980s has made a ferocious comeback during the COVID-19 Era — Amish Friendship Bread (AFB).
If you’re unfamiliar with Amish Friendship Bread, then you either have no friends or friends who truly care about your mental health and well-being and have not offered you any of this neurotic-inducing yeast concoction.
Here’s how it works: You make the starter batter with yeast, flour, sugar and milk and then let it “grow” in a large baggie on your counter, taking care to “mash” and nourish and breast-feed the bread for ten consecutive days. Ok — just joking on the breast feeding. On day ten, you divide the starter dough into four or five 1-cup batches, keeping one for yourself and giving away the other starters to four or five of your friends.
Then you wait for your friends to “unfriend” you.
If any of your friends, upon seeing you standing on the doorstep with baggies of AFB starters, suddenly screams, makes the sign of the cross, throws a ring of garlic around her neck and slams the door in your face, you can be sure she has had a prior AFB experience, and now suffers from AFB PTSD.
My daughter’s friend — let’s call her Becky, ‘cause that’s her name — swears that her starter dough doubled or tripled in size as she slept. If there were three baggies when she went to bed, there would be 12 when she made her morning coffee. It creeped her out. She even called a priest to exorcise the AFB dough clones, to no avail.
Becky tried baking everything away, but that didn’t work. She was still left with one or two starter batches — which, to her horror, continued to grow — and she soon had 12 baggies of starter dough and 24 loaves of baked AFB on her counter. After the initial thrill of homemade bread (Who does that? Seriously?) Becky’s husband and son quickly grew weary of consuming Amish Friendship Bread, AFB lasagna, AFB tuna cupcakes and AFB WTF casserole.
I sympathize with Becky’s plight (although she better not bring that dough over here). I still have PTSD symptoms from trying to unload AFB on my (now former) friends back in the 80s. I too, tried to bake my way out of it, but my kids put their foot down when I tried to serve them AFB SpaghettiOs Pie.
Close to a nervous breakdown from trying to give away millions of AFB baggie starters to friends who said, “No way in hell!” and from trying to bake or use all of the starters, I tried to secretly throw away some of the starters, even though this caused immense guilt — children in Africa are starving! — but I swear it multiplied in the trash can, crawled out at night and chased my cat around the house before settling back on the counter in a gelatinous blob that greeted me in the morning with strange burping noises.
I paid my dues. Don’t be coming around pretending to be my friend while holding a bag of Amish Friendship Bread starter.
Friends don’t let friends give other friends Amish Friendship Bread Starter.