Friendship Bread: A Novel by Darien Gee
Friendship Bread begins with the mysterious present of starter bread batter and expands to show how the smallest gifts can change entire lives.
Julia Evarts has sustained a tragedy of heartbreaking proportions. She manages to care for her little daughter, but she can’t tolerate being near her once-beloved sister Livvy. Her marriage to her husband Mark hangs by a thread. Julia’s grief and estrangement is a constant torture for her. She can no longer find joy in her life.
Hannah de Brisay is a talented cellist who has devoted herself to her art from the age of three. She’s young, vibrant, and celebrated, when a back injury prevents her from playing professionally again. Philippe, her partner in marriage and in music, sticks her in the charming town of Avalon while he is away–playing, in all senses of the word.
Madeline Davis has also had her share of sorrow. She’s older, though, and perhaps even wiser. Certainly she knows, as this captivating book shows, that nurturing others often helps you heal yourself. In her small tea salon, these women come together and begin the slow alchemy of friendship and personal transformation.
Much more happens, too: an ambitious journalist named Edie causes problems for everyone in town; a sexy architect named Vivian works very hard to seduce Julia’s husband Mark; and Connie Coll loses her job as a Laundromat attendant with surprising consequences. Other residents of Avalon make delightful cameos as they deal with their unexpected gifts of Friendship Bread. Some are happy about it. Some aren’t.
Through it all, Darien Gee’s virtuoso storytelling kept me turning pages–and wishing I lived in Avalon! The story flows smoothly, full of surprises, and I often found sentences so wise, so lovely, they took my breath away–and made me think.
Friendship Bread is a book that transports you to a place where your heart is soothed and uplifted as you experience the grief, petty faults, and random kindnesses all humans share. Ultimately, it makes you love your very own flawed and precious life.
I loved this book, it was a bit on the cheesy side, but I really enjoyed turning it on every morning and evening of my commute to listen to it. I loved hearing the stories of the ladies: Julia, Hannah and Madeline.
Since I listened online through Overdrive, I looked it up on Amazon and saw that they provided the recipe for Friendship Bread. I wish they had included some of the variations that they described in the book! Madeline was quite the cook!
Amish Friendship Bread Starter
- 1 pkg active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup milk
- In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand ten minutes.
- In a glass, plastic, or ceramic container, combine flour and sugar. Mix thoroughly. (no stainless steel!)
- 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.
- For the next ten days, care for your starter according to the instructions for Amish Friendship Bread.
- Day 1 – Do Nothing
- Day 2 – Mash the bag
- Day 3- Mash the bag
- Day 4- Mash the bag
- Day 5- Mash the bag
- Day 6- Add to the bag: 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk. Mash the bag.
- Day 7- Mash the bag
- Day 8- Mash the bag
- Day 9- Mash the bag
- Day 10 – Follow the directions below
- Pour the entire bag into a nonmetal bowl.
- Add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups milk.
- Measure out four separate batters of 1 cup each into for one-gallon Ziploc Bags.
- Keep one of the bags for yourself and give the other bags to three friend along with the recipe.
Preheat oven to 325 F
Put the remaining batter into a bowl and add the following:
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup oil
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups flour
- 1-2 boxes Jell-O instant pudding (any flavor)
- Optional: 1 cup nuts and 1 cup raisins
Grease two large loaf pans.
In a bowl, mix an additional 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Dust the greased pans with sugar/cinnamon mixture.
Pour the batter evenly into the pans and sprinkle the remaining mixture on the top.
Bake for 1 hour or until the bread loosens evenly from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean
A few notes:
- If you keep the starter for yourself you will bake fresh bread every 10 days.
- Do not refrigerate the starter, it is normal for the batter to rise and ferment. Store batter in a Gallon sized Ziploc on the counter. If air gets in the bag, let it out. Do Not use a metal spoon for mixing, it will interfere with the fermenting process.
- I did find a website that has a lot of recipe variations – the site seems a bit buggy and possibly you have to join – that could be why it was buggy…but may be worth it to get some good recipes! They also have a facebook page – look it up!
Be sure to check out the review of The Middle Place.