Friday, February 24, 2012

Book Review: Friendship Bread

This book is based on a chain-letter style activity involving Amish Friendship Bread starter batter. The batter generally comes in a Ziploc baggie with instructions to knead and feed the batter for 10 days. On the final day, the fermented batter is then divided into four portions, one to bake with and three to pass along to "friends." After reading this book, I found myself hoping to secure another baggie of this batter. I had a portion of it several years back, and although it was difficult to get rid of the extra starter (since I had no clue who to pass it on to), the bread itself was delicious (very cake-like and sweet).

Darien Gee has based this whole novel on the concept of the sharing of Amish Friendship Bread starter. She peoples her novel with numerous characters and yet manages to maintain a solid story line. I became quickly engrossed in the novel. The main three characters are women, each with a different life obstacle. Julia faces a fractured relationship with her sister after the death of her son while in the care of the sister. Hannah faces the loss of her eminent music career and her marriage. Madeleine faces the challenge of starting over in a small town after the death of her husband. Each of the women join in a welcome friendship and turn the experience with the friendship bread into a campaign.

This was a lovely, light-hearted read. The book had a similar feel to Maeve Binchy books (since she begins each chapter with a new character and weaves together the people of a community until you feel that you are right there in the midst of them all). I ended the book feeling edified and eager to whip up a batch of friendship bread or brownies or some other delectable. Alas, I have no starter and doubt I could follow the directions at the end of the book for creating my own starter (it involves yeast - something I've never worked with before). I will probably copy down the recipes at the end of the book, however ... just in case some starter winds up in my possession.

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