It’s a rainy day in Toronto and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it by drinking copious amounts of tea and reading Darien Gee’s “Friendship Bread“. This book was made for days like this! It was filled with self discovery, growth and friendship.
We’re introduced too many characters, but the three core women that shape the story are Julia, Madeline and Hannah. Each have personal struggles that they’ve buried away and have avoided for many years. One day, Julia and her young daughter Gracie open the door of their home and discover a ziplock bag of “starter” which is a combination of ingredients that makes the beginning stage of “Amish Friendship Bread” with a note that says I hope you enjoy it. Together, they start the process of making the bread that everyone in their household loves instantly. Part of the instructions when making the bread is passing the starter onto friends and family. This creates a problem for the quiet and reserved Julia, who after experiencing a family tragedy doesn’t have many people in her life besides her husband and daughter. She has separated herself from the town of Avalon. The community reached out to her when tragedy struck, but received no acknowledgement or response in return.
Now years later, with three bags of starter, a daughter full of energy and a husband who’s slowly slipping away, Julia walks into a tea salon in town run by the wise and kind Madeline. In the salon she strikes up a conversation with both Madeline and a new Avalon resident, the shy Hannah. The three form an instant bond and agree to meet every 10 days to talk friendship bread and life. As starter and bread continues to be made, their bags and bags of starter continue to be distributed among the town. It becomes an “edible chain letter” of sorts. As the baking continues, each of their storylines develop and we’re introduced to different town members who are also deeply affected by this tasting bread.
As mentioned, it was a wonderful story to read on a Saturday afternoon. I began to care for each character and smiled when they succeeded and frowned when they failed. If you’re looking for a great weekend read that will instantly draw you into small town living and friendship, then I highly recommend Darien Gee’s “Friendship Bread”. I’m also super excited to start my own batch of Amish Friendship Bread. I jotted down the recipe as I reading this novel and as a lover of baking, I have a lot of hand written recipes all over my home, so I thought I’d share my hand written version of this recipe. I accidentally forgot to write down the “starter” part of the recipe; so that’ll be typed out… OOPS!
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes
2. In a glass, plastic or ceramic container, combine flour and sugar. Mix thoroughly
3. Slowly add in milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Cover loosely and let stand at room temperature until bubbly. This is Day One of the ten day cycle
4. For the next 10 days, care for your starter according to the instructions for Amish Friendship Bread