I recently received a bag of liquidy mush from elegyrl. It was the starter for the food item commonly known as Amish friendship bread, or cinnamon friendship bread, or Amish cinnamon friendship bread. In elegyrl's case, it was called something else entirely, but that's what it was.
I've actually experienced such bread before, and I remember it was quite tasty, so I was glad to get to make it again. Since I still had the recipe on my computer from that last time, I decided to compare my old recipe with elegyrl's new one. They were more or less the same, except that elegyrl's said to use baking powder and baking soda, whereas mine said just to use the one (can't remember which one).
I don't know whether using both baking powder and baking soda was what caused my problems, or whether it was the fact that I filled the bread pans over halfway full, or whether it was something else entirely (the fates ganging up on me, the oven cursing me, etc.), but the bread... didn't exactly turn out the way I meant it to.
I started off, filled up three bags for new starters to give to friends, made the batter, pre-heated the oven, poured the batter into the pans (one regular size and two disposable mini-loaf pans), and licked the bowl. Man, that batter was delicious! I put the pans in the oven, and decided to tackle the giant mound of dishes while they baked. I suppose I could have used the dishwasher--we normally don't use it as we don't create enough dirty dishes to fill it before we run out of clean ones--but I have a general mistrust of dishwashers, and am picky with what I put in there.
Halfway through the bake time, I checked on the bread. Holy mackerel! It had puffed up, and one of the mini loaf pans was on the verge of running over the side. It was so bubbled over that it looked like if I poked it with a chopstick it might explode. However, being the very intelligent person that I am, I figured that by this point in the baking cycle the batter should be done puffing up, so I closed the oven door and resumed washing dishes.
Phew! I thought. That was a close one!
Ha, ha, ha. Little did I know...
A bit later I decided to check on them again. This time when I opened the door I yelled in surprise--they had ALL puffed up even more, and overflowed their pans. The regular-sized bread pan had created a six-inch fritter at the bottom of the oven, and the little pans had contributed their own smaller pancakes.
Something must be done immediately, I decided.
I took Tree-hugger's big cookie sheet and stuck it at the bottom of the oven--on top of the nasty spilled-over batter and the oven's heating element--and shut the door, hoping that would be enough.
Eventually the timer rang, and I was glad to be able to see whether the bread was near done or not, because aside from looking not even close to done when I checked on them before, it looked like they were browning too fast on the top. This time when I opened the oven door, a little bit of smoke came out, along with a whole lot of nasty burned smell.
That was the point at which my poor little brain went on overload. I like to consider myself a pretty good baker, despite the fact that I only bake/cook once in a blue moon, and usually only for other people. But look at the mess in my oven! Look at those failed loaves! And this was something I'd done before! So humiliating.
Oh yeah, and I burned my wrist on the oven, too.
I didn't know what to do. I couldn't try to keep cooking them, because I didn't want to start a fire. But I didn't have time to really do anything else--I had to get ready for work. After a tearful phone call with Olive (yes, I cried over my bread, ok? What can I say? I'm a wimp), who helped calm me down, I took the loaves and cookie sheet (singed black on the bottom) out of the oven, wrote an apologetic note to Tree-hugger--Dear Tree-hugger, Sorry for the mess. Don't look in the oven--and headed off to work. At least the dishes got done, right?
The good news:
-I noticed as the "loaves" cooled that their crusts were actually done, so I picked the crusts off and ate them.
-They were pretty near to done in general, just a bit more moist than usual. The next day I was able to salvage one of the mini-loaves and most of the big loaf. And by "salvage" I mean re-bake it into a thick mass of consumable substance, which is perhaps not entirely healthy, but does at least taste good.
-The oven really needed to be cleaned anyway. Really. And now it has been.
-I saved a starter for myself so I can try it again. I shall not be beaten by a bag of mush.