Okay, so it's a lousy pun, but we are going to discuss bread today. Specifically that yummy cakelike creation known as Amish Friendship Bread. Essentially a sourdough, it starts out as a bag of goop that sits on your counter and bubbles at you. You feed it at the designated times, then palm some of it off on your friends and bake a loaf of bread with the remainder.
Having killed my starter a long time ago due to lack of time (and lack of enough baking friends to keep it going), it was years before I could get my hands on a new starter. Thanks to a book called "The Amish Cook" by Elizabeth Coblentz, I can make some up if ever I need it again. Go check out the page; the recipe is there. I'll wait.
Neat, huh? There's a drawback, though. It doesn't take long before the bags of starter take on a zucchini-like aura. Your friends hide when they see you with Ziplocs in hand, and you're reduced to sneaking bags onto porches late at night.
No problem. Prepare to mega-bake! Instead of drawing off the three cups, just bag and save one. That'll be yours to keep for the next ten-day cycle. You'll have roughly three cups of starter in a (hopefully) large bowl. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then grease four loaf pans (or two loaf and one Bundt pan) and sprinkle the insides with cinnamon sugar. Add the following ingredients to the starter in the bowl:
1 2/3 cups oil
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon rum extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups flour
2 large boxes instant vanilla pudding
1 teaspoon salt
Two or three "shakes" each of allspice, nutmeg, and ground cloves
Stir this mess together and pour it into your prepared pans. Bake for almost an hour. You can use the toothpick trick to test for doneness. If it's still got a ways to go, you can cover the cake tops with foil to prevent burning.
These loaves make great gifts. I'm not sure how well they keep, because they usually disappear once they come out of our oven.