Open Source Bread, from the Amish no less!

Last week a friend came by to visit and dropped off a rather interesting looking 1 gallon Zip-Lock bag filled with about 1 cup of a rather mysterious looking beige gooey substance in it. On the outside of the bag, written in black permanent marker was a date.


(lets see you compile this GCC!)

Along with this mysterious bag was a computer printed text file:


Amish Friendship Bread
batter will ferment, get bubble and rise.
let the air out of the bag as it accumulates
Day 1  The day your bag was made (date is on the bag)
Day 2  knead bag
Day 3  knead bag
Day 4  knead bag
Day 5  Add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour and 1 cup milk; stir
Day 6  knead bag
Day 7  knead bag
Day 8  knead bag
Day 9  knead bag
Day 10: Pour out contents of bag into a bowl (NO METAL!)
Add 1-1/2 cup sugar, 1-1/2 cup flour and 1-1/2 cup milk, mix well.
Measure out 4 seperate starter bags bu putting 1 cup of batter into each.
Use 1 gallon bags
Pre-heat your over to 325 degrees
With the remaining starter add the following:
1 c. Amish friendship bread starter
2/3 c. oil
3 eggs
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. sugar
Butter 2 loaf pans and lightly coat with cinnamon sugar mix. Divide batter into
pans and bake for 1 hour
Feel free to add raisins, nuts and dried fruits as you like
Be sure to write down the date the new bags were started on, and let your giftee
know what day they recieved it, just so they get it right
Keep one for yourself if you want, you could be baking every 10 days, or give
them all away! But then you have to home that someone gives you another

We put aside the irony of the instructions for Amish bread being computer generated and diligently kneaded the bag every day and added the appropriate amount of ingredients on Day 5.

Today was day 10 and thus the bread was baked. It smelled sour coming out of the bag and only God knows how many generations of milk are in this thing sitting on my counter… But we mixed and divided and added and mixed and buttered and baked.

I must say, it came out delicious. A super sweet treat, and the crust was crunchy like a good buttery sweet pastry. Sliced hot and buttered it was like a little piece of heaven melting away in my mouth.

Thank you, Amish people, for this fine food and friendship builder!

As I was sitting outside enjoying the last half of the first loaf this afternoon a though occurred to me, “This is good, why doesn’t someone market it?” It would be a neat addition to a local cafe – every ten days the owner puts out their tasty friendship bread as a treat to their customers. Every now and then I could walk into my local espresso shop to find a surprise treat in the pastry bin.

But what does the cafe owner do with the starters? Does he keep them? This doesn’t seem very nice, especially if he was given the starter by a friend and didn’t cheat by finding the starter recipe online. But even if he did it is still specific that the batter is to be divided and shared. It’s specific in the recipe that you are to give away a portion of the batter to some friends as well as keeping a portion for yourself to make more with.

Hmmm… taking a root item, modifying it slightly and giving it back to the community… Why does this seem familiar? Oh yeah! It’s the FOSS principle – Free and Open Source Software is intended to be used by all freely and redistributed by all as they see fit within certain licensing agreements, just like my gooey mass of ancient milk/flour/sugar batter in a bag.

By this logic then the recipe is the “source” and the rule of sharing becomes the license. Ironically this marries up nicely with the GPL (among others) so does that make this bread “Open Source?”

And if it does, does that owner have the right to sell portions (slices) of the bread without also providing the source for that bread (starter bags)? Considering that the recipe is already in the public domain, I wonder if it’s too late to license this bread uder the GPLv3 to keep corporations like WonderBread from taking a free starter and tivoizing it?

Or maybe WonderBread decides that they hold the original patent on bread, but instead of suing the Amish they partner with them to distribute bread support coupons (the instruction sheets) while it is still up to the community to actually distribute the gooey crap in a bag? So long as you have a cross licensed WonderBread/Amish Friendship Bread instruction sheet you are free to bake and use as much bread as you like.


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