I was looking through some of my recipes earlier trying to find one for cornbread, when I came across Amish Friendship Bread. This bread uses a starter which you often recieve from a friend. The version I encountered my first year out in Utah, was for a cinnamon quick bread. However, I quickly discovered that the starter can be used for a whole variety of quick breads.
Now I will forewarn you, as I was sceptical myself: it contains milk that you let … well ferment would be the best word. I was suspicious, but trusted my friend, and found a delicious bread that was flexible and quite phenomenal. Through experience there are two things that i would note. If you make your own starter, it always tastes better by the second round. For some reason the first round of starter lack the punch. Second, the bread oddly tastes better the next day. I thought it was tolerable the first day, but it completely blew my socks off on day two.
If you want probably a better way (though longer) to make the starter check out this Amish Friendship Bread Starter Recipe. Otherwise, here is my simpler (sorta) version that really does taste better on the second round (note: this still takes 10 days).
AMISH FRIENDSHIP BREAD STARTER
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- Mix all ingredients into a gallon size bag. Mash, smoosh, whatever the bag to mix everything. Oh ya, you’ll want to date the bag: which is easier to do BEFORE you put the ingredients into it. This is Day 1.
- Days 2-5: Mash the bag. Go ahead, have fun, do a little swing dance with the bag if it helps. I’ll be honestly, mostly whenever I pass the bag in the kitchen I’m like: Oh look something to play with. Thirty seconds later the bag has been restored to is previous position. But, hey it got mashed didn’t it?
- Day 6: Add 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 cup of milk. Mash the bag like usual.
- Day 7-9: Mash the bag. You will need to open the bag briefly each day to release the fermented gas so the bag doesn’t burst. And a burst bag is really disgusting. Imagine coming into the kitchen to clean up fermented batter… ya…no fun. Especially if someone wasn’t paying attention and dropped mail onto it.
- Day 10: Pour into a bowl (trust me you’ll need the space) Add 1 1/2 cups each of milk, sugar and flour.
You will now have about 6 cups of batter. Generally at this point. You reserve 2 cups to make friendship bread, then put 1 cup each into 4 dated bags. Those bags then get passed on continuing the chain letter batter trend that Friendship Bread is known for. You can reserve a bag of starter for yourself if you like. Another option is to make three batches of bread (or 6 loaves). I’ve done that before. It was. . . exhausting. That and I had bread coming out of my ears.
Now something good to know is that you can freeze the starter. Yes, if you are going on a vacation or are just wanting to skip it one cycle go ahead an freeze it. Also, though this is very much a 10 day thing, it really isn’t. If you need to add the ingredients before or after day six go ahead. You if want to bake on day 9 or 12 you can wait. just so long as your battle doesn’t turn orange or grow funny stuff don’t worry.
Here’s a pdf to print out and give away with the starter: Friendship Bread Recipe
AMISH FRIENDSHIP BREAD
- 2 cups of starter
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup oil: I often use 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup of applesauce. After all it’s nice to pretend to be health conscious.
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup sugar: You can use white or brown sugar. I prefer using brown sugar because it really takes it up a notch, especially if I’m doing on of the heartier variations.
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cup flour: All-purpose flour work, though you can also do half wheat flour. Now once I added an extra 2/3 cup by accident (I though I was holding a 1/4 cp measure, not 1/3 cup) and the bread actually rose prettier. So feel free to do so at your own discretion.
- * 2 tsp cinnamon: I should mention, I never measure cinnamon. I just open the end and dash away to the beat of the Carol of the Bells done by the Transiberian Orchestra (as in I add a lot). And further, cinnamon is almost never without her dear friend nutmeg, and occasionally her casual acquaintances: mace, allspice, and cloves.
- *1/2 tsp vanilla
- *1 large box instant pudding: I actually almost never use a pudding mix in this version, on some of the variations (below) I’ll use pudding, but I think it tastes better without.
Note: The ingredients marked with the * are dependent upon what type you are interested in. Below the recipe you’ll find other variations from this basic cinnamon bread kind.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (For those at a higher altitude, I usually up it to 360-375)
- Grease your baking pans (either 2 loaf pans, 1 9X13, 2 8X8 pans. . . you get the idea. Though I never did muffins oddly enough). Now a fun, but not necessary step (I fell in love with this step) is to take a cinnamon sugar mixture and dust the greased pans with it. I usually have a cinnamon sugar mixture on hand for toast, but you can use 1 tsp (or a transiberian orchestra dash) and a cup of sugar. Use half of the mixture to dust the pans and reserved the other half for step 4.
- Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. If you bake you may feel drawn to add ingredients in a special order, but it’s not necessary. Just make sure it all gets mixed and as with most quick breads: Don’t over-mix.
- Pour batter evenly (as opposed to unevenly? I always found the clarification unnecessary, but eh) into your pan(s). Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over top.
- Bake for 1 hour or until done. Check it at 45 minutes or so to make sure you didn’t accidentally do something stupid like. . . tell your oven to burn it or something. For those who want to know how to check doneness there are two basic tips: 1) Poke it, if it springs back, congratulations it’s done. 2) Poke it with a toothpick or knife. if there is batter attached it needs to cook longer.
- Let the bread cool for a few moments before removing from the pans. Let it finish cooling before you eat it. Or don’t. the choice is yours. But honestly this is the only recipe I’ve come across that waiting seems to make it taste better.
Recall that the ingredients I marked with a * are negotiable. Here are some variations I’ve enjoyed, or think might be interesting.
- Apple cinnamon: Cinnamon and chopped apples, you can also add walnuts or pecans
- Blueberry: Blueberries and a dash of cinnamon and a couple dashes of nutmeg. You could use other fruit like chopped peaches or cranberries
- Chocolate: Instant Chocolate Pudding, cocoa powder, vanilla. For a chocolate marble, reserve a cup of batter before adding the chocolate pudding and cocoa powder, then swirl it into the other batter in the baking dish. Sometimes for the chocolate I’ll even add some hot chocolate mix for a yummy edge.
- Cornbread: Add a cup of cornmeal. This is surprisingly good. It’s almost like corn cake. A very sweet soft cornbread.
- Banana: add mashed bananas, cinnamon, nutmeg and nuts if desired.
- Lemon: use lemon instant pudding. You could probably add poppy seeds if you have them (though honestly who actually has them on hand), marble it, or add white chocolate chips. Though warning on the chocolate chips. it’s always tricky with cakes and quick breads to add chips of some kind because they have a tendency to sink to the bottom. I’ve yet to find the appropriate balance to prevent that from happening.
- You can also add up to a cup of oatmeal to any of these. For a more hearty on, add oatmeal, use brown sugar, use half whole wheat flour, add nuts, chopped apples, and shredded zucchini. Yummy.
- In theory you can also try adding pumpkin or mashed sweet potato. The problem I haven’t figured out it how to adjust for the added moisture, but if you can pull it off it will be fantastic.
Here are two good resources for what to do to keep the starter healthy (if you want to carry it on) or how to put it on a diet so you aren’t over loaded with starter: