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A bread line request: Stop the starter bags

I know that it is time to clean my top freezer when I open the door and something indescribable falls out, as it did last week. I went into a frenzy, tossing anything that resembled a creature from the black lagoon. But then, what did my frozen fingers encounter way at the back? My nemesis -- a plastic bag containing a small loaf of bread.

It had returned to haunt me just when I thought I got rid of all the evidence last year -- the last loaf of Friendship Bread. At one time there were many bags in my freezer because they kept multiplying like rabbits.

Memories flooded back to the time when baking this bread became addictive. I was "hooked" by the wonderful taste when my neighbor gave me a sample slice. I naively asked for the recipe. She went all the way and produced a "starter bag" of dough and two pages of directions. Two pages?

Since that fateful afternoon my life revolved around the bread. Perhaps if I breeze through the recipe you will see how an inanimate object became so intrusive.

Day One -- the bag sits on the kitchen counter, expanding.

Days Two, Three, Four and Five -- open bag to "burp." The gasses escape, the bag is closed and squeezed.

Day Six -- Add sugar, flour and milk thus "feeding" the starter and necessitating a transfer of dough to a larger bag.

Days Seven, Eight and Nine -- burp bag, close and squeeze.

Day Ten -- a crucial day. Sugar, flour and milk are combined in a large bowl, the starter bag dumped into it and mixed.

The following is not for the klutzy because the dough is divided thusly: One cup is placed into four small food bags. Three are given to friends -- a true test of friendship -- and one bag remains with with originator.

Remaining contents in bowl are mixed with more sugar, milk and flour, poured into two pans and baked creating a tantalizing aroma.

However, this is not the end because that one bag put aside begins another cycle. In its own seductive way, that bag dominated my life to the extent that I had to plan brief stays away from home. I could not be away on Day Six or Day Ten. But when the bag of dough was smaller I carried it with me in a protective box.

There were some cautions not included in the directions. I wish my neighbor had warned me about Day Two. My first experience on that day was a disaster. As expected, the bag had expanded to the point where it appeared ready to explode -- and it did when I opened it. Globs of dough ricocheted off the kitchen cabinets and into my hair. I scraped the dough off the counter into the bag, zipped and squeezed. Apparently I did not zip the closure to the end. You can guess what happened.

There was a bright side to this saga: The bread replaced my Christmas fruitcake as gifts. Eventually I did not know if I could go on, subservient to a loaf of bread. There were other avenues I wanted to pursue, like writing.

Then there was the dream wherein I walked aimlessly through a blizzard, carrying a baby wrapped in a blanket, but when I opened the blanket it was not a baby, it was a bag of dough. So I tossed it on my shoulder, patted it and waited for the burp, and the falling snow became globs of dough.

That's when I knew it was time to clean the freezer. In my haste I overlooked that one loaf of bread.

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