Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Friendship Bread

One night Theresa and I were sitting on the couch.
Theresa - We should make Friendship Bread and send it to our friends.
Joe - What's Friendship Bread?
Theresa - You never made Friendship Bread when you were growing up?

I never have. Theresa explained that Friendship Bread was something you got from someone and then fed over the next 10 days. On day 10, you split it up again and send it along to more friends.
That sounds like a fun thing to do while everyone is stuck in the house. I'm on board! Let's do it!

One of the harder things to find during this COVID shutdown has been yeast. And after weeks of looking we still had no luck. While cleaning out the fridge, tucked way in the back was a jar of yeast. I can't even remember the last time using it. I know it has an expiration date, but we'll still give this a shot.

We've got to make sure we give our yeast the best shot at surviving. It starts with water that is 110 degrees. Can't be too warm, otherwise we might kill our yeast.

In goes the yeast to a bowl. The kids were very excited to help out with all this. Alli measured out 1 packets worth of yeast.

And Ian added the warm water.
One of the great benefits to making this yeast starter is that now all our friends we give this to will have their own source of yeast which they can use to make all sorts of recipes.
For us though, since we're starting this off, we need yeast and we need a starter recipe. Theresa's main source was It gave us the recipe we were looking for, plus instructions of what we needed to do every day. The yeast needs to sit in the warm water for 10 minutes to wake up.

In that 10 minutes, Alli quickly changed into an Elsa costume. Alli, go change, you might get messy for this next part.

That's because you're in charge of adding 1 cup of flour to a gallon ziplock bag.

Ian added 1 cup of sugar, and then Theresa added a cup of milk.

Lastly the yeast and water goes into the bag.

Knowing that we've got a lot of friends to share this with, we actually made up 2 batches. And now we wait!
Day 1 is 4/20 and besides making the bags, we do nothing else. It sits on the countertop in the kitchen at room temperature, yes even with a cup of milk in it,

Day 2, 3, 4, and 5, you mash the bag each day.
And we need not have worried about the yeast being expired. We have very happy yeast. They are munching down on all those sugars and producing carbon dioxide. Multiple times Theresa and I had to release some of the air from the bag, otherwise it was risking bursting.

Day 6 is here! Time to do the next step. We'll add 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 cup of milk to each bag.
Ian - Why does the yeast like to eat sugar?
Alli - and drink milk?
Both good questions.

Day 7, 8, and 9, mean more mashing of the bag.
Day 10 is the last day of making the starter and it was time to have some fun!

First everything goes into a large bowl.

Then you add a 1 1/2 cups of flour.

Another 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Plus 1 1/2 cups of milk. Everything goes in nice even numbers.

Stir it all up and you've got a lot of starter to share.

That's Ian's batch. Alli's turn.

Likewise she added 1 1/2 cups of flour, sugar, and milk to starter.

And then stirred everything together. Next, you scoop out 1 cup of the starter and put it in a bag.

Each batch made 7 cups, so we've got 14 cups total. That's going to be a lot of fun to give away!

We saved 4 of those 14 cups for ourselves. Two of them will go to making the next round of starter (see you in 10 days), and the other two we're going to make into Friendship Bread!
There's a probably over a hundred recipes that we could have made, also available on the website, but we're sticking with the traditional one that Theresa remembers.

Both kids got a chance to help in making up the bread.
All along I've been questioning the label of this being "bread". The starter is super liquid and has no dough-like qualities. And once it's time to make the final "bread" again, it's still liquid. No, this is not a dough, it's a batter. Which means this isn't Friendship Bread, it's Friendship Cake. No wonder Theresa liked it so much growing up.

Into the batter went 3 eggs, 1 cup of oil, 1/2 cup of milk, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 2 cups of flour, and 1 small package of pudding mix. Wow, that's a lot of ingredients!

Everything was mixed until it came together. That little bit of cinnamon goes a long way into changing the color of this whole bowl.

Next was the prep work for the pans. Before pouring the batter into them, I buttered the sides, made a mixture of cinnamon-sugar, and then coated the entire interior.

After pouring in the batter, the remainder of the cinnamon-sugar mixture goes on top.

About 45 minutes later (I know the recipe says 1 hour, but these are flat pans instead of loaf pans), I stuck a toothpick into the middle and declared them done! Oh, and while baking the house had a wonderful smell of warm cinnamon.

The kids were really proud of themselves, and really excited to share with others. Excellent work Theresa. This was a great idea.

Grammy and Grandpa came over and shared one of the cakes with us.

Someone is reliving some happy childhood memories.

And the kids are starting some of their own happy memories with Friendship Bread.

What's left of our cake. For the second cake, Theresa cut it into fourths and wrapped it up.

Wrapped it up because it's going over to our neighbors' houses! With the Friendship Bread starter bags, I added a picture of the kids on one side, and the instructions for what to do with the starter on the other.

Just a small modification to the title of the recipe.

With washed hands and masks on, we delivered warm Friendship Bread and new bags of starter to our neighbors.

And for those extra bags we have? They're certainly not going to waste. We're surprising our extended friends and family with packages! The kids drew pictures, or made creations for everyone. And Chi has been making masks for all our family too, so if someone wanted one, they got one.

As the packages got delivered, Ian and Alli just loved getting pictures and texts back from everyone showing that they received it. Thank you everyone!

And as the days go by, I know a lot of them will have fun making their own Friendship Bread and sharing it with their friends.

As well as the smashing.

The kids were smiling with every new text, video, or picture that came in.
Great work kids and thank you Theresa for introducing me to something I haven't done before!


  1. That was really neat and heartwarming! The Friendship Bread brought a lot of smiles to the givers and the recipients (and then the new givers & recipients!) Having personal pictures and drawings along with the bread made it extra special. Must have been a lot of anticipation during those first 10 days...then to finally use it to make the bread...that cinnamon aroma smelled soooooooo good during the baking. Great idea by Theresa to rekindle the Friendship Bread idea. EOM

  2. Definitely takes me back to my childhood too! I love Amish friendship bread 🥰 This was such a fun surprise!