Originally Posted by pathar
Well, I made my first batch, and we've eaten one of the loaves and neither of us is dead. So that's good. I can't shake the feeling, as I make the bread, that I don't really need the sourdough starter. I would say I should experiment, but since I have five more starters ... :P
The purpose of a Friendship bread is to pass it (the starter) and the recipe on to your friends or make new friends. Has a long tradition in small communities. Very nice way to connect by "breaking bread" or sharing bread together. Wiki story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amish_Friendship_Bread
In essence, the starter is a sponge, a baking term, for jump starting the fermentation process for good development, making it rise faster. There are many types of starters, etc. Check out the Wiki entry: Pre-ferment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
for more information.
Hope that helps and I'm glad you are both still around