I love my book club! Love, love, love it! I have belonged to it for a couple of years now and have read some great books. I have read some I haven't loved, but were still ok reads. My favorite part of book club is that we all take turns choosing books and I have been introduced to books I would have never picked up. We even read a book and were able to have the author call us and do a conference call with us at our meeting! That was really, really cool!
This month was my turn to choose the book, and I chose "Friendship Bread" by Darien Gee.
This is what the author says about the book on Amazon...
Can a loaf of Amish Friendship Bread heal a broken heart and change an entire community?
Friendship Bread opens in the fictitious rivertown of Avalon, Illinois. Like many small communities, Avalon is a place where families gather to share a meal and where neighbors are quick to come to one another’s aid. Visitors are charmed by the quiet simplicity of Avalon, of the scent of fresh-baked goods wafting from Madeline’s Tea Salon, of the sweet bungalow homes that line the shady streets.
But behind every closed door is a story, and on a sunny afternoon in March, my protagonist’s story begins. For five years Julia Evarts has carried a grief that threatens to tear her family apart. She’s going through the motions of life when her young daughter discovers the equivalent of a culinary chain letter sitting on their front porch: a plate of Amish Friendship Bread along with a bag of starter and an anonymous note that says “I HOPE YOU ENJOY IT.” They’re instructed to feed the starter over a ten-day period and then bake two loaves of bread and share the remaining starter with three other people. As the bread and its starter make their way through Julia’s small town, including into the home of her estranged sister, the residents of Avalon, Illinois, find their lives--and hearts--opening in ways both poignant and unexpected.
The novel was inspired by my own experience with Amish Friendship Bread, when my daughter brought it home along with a bag of starter she’d received from a friend. I was eating the last few crumbs when I started to think about a woman who receives the starter and just doesn’t want to do it. I saw a sadness hanging over this character and I knew I wanted to find out more. I started writing and the story quickly took shape--more importantly, it soon became clear that the book wasn’t about any one person, but an entire community ready for change and connection.
My verdict: 4 1/2 of 5 stars. It was a really good read. I enjoyed getting to know the citizens of Avalon. I am thinking about baking some Amish Friendship Bread (although the idea of what to do with all the starter makes me a little nervous). I was a little sad when the book ended because I knew that I would miss reading about all of the characters.
In case you are interested, here is a recipe for Amish Friendship Bread:
Amish Friendship Bread Recipe
Day 1 - receive the starter (the recipe for the starter is below)
Day 2 - stir
Day 3 - stir
Day 4 - stir
Day 5 - Add 1 cup each flour, sugar and milk.
Day 6 - stir
Day 7 - stir
Day 8 - stir
Day 9 - stir
Day 10 - Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Divide into 4 containers, with 1 cup each for three of your friends and 1 cup for your own loaves. Give friends the instructions for Day 1 through Day 10 and the following recipe for baking the bread.
After removing the 3 cups of batter, combine the remaining cup of Amish Friendship Bread starter with the following ingredients in a large bowl:
2/3 cup oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Using a fork beat by hand until well blended. You can add 1 cup raisins and 1 cup nuts (optional).
Grease two loaf pans with butter, sprinkle with sugar instead of flour.
Bake at 325 degrees F for 45 minutes to 1 hour (individual oven temperatures vary). Cool 10 minutes, remove from pans. Makes two loaves of Amish Friendship Bread.
Amish Friendship Bread Starter
This is the Amish Friendship Bread Starter Recipe that you'll need to make the Amish Friendship Bread (above). It is very important to use plastic or wooden utensils and plastic or glass containers when making this. Do not use metal at all!
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F)
1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water for about 10 minutes. Stir well.
2. In a 2 quart glass or plastic container, combine 1 cup sifted flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or the flour will get lumpy when you add the milk.
3. Slowly stir in warm milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Loosely cover the mixture with a lid or plastic wrap. The mixture will get bubbly. Consider this Day 1 of the cycle, or the day you receive the starter.
For the next 10 days handle starter according to the instructions above for Amish Friendship Bread.
I am interested to know - Have you ever received any Amish Friendship Bread starter? If so, what did you do with it? Have you ever eaten Amish Friendship Bread? Did you like it?