Monday, April 25, 2011

Amish Friendship Bread

The Amish are known for their beautiful handmade furniture, their ornate quilts, and their simple lifestyle. While we have no Amish in our area, every now and then a starter bag of their Friendship Bread gets passed around. Not only is it delicious, it's fun to share with friends. I received a bag from my neighbor a couple weeks ago and was so excited. It's been a few years since I've made it. I've said how much I love quick breads. This one doesn't disappoint. 

The recipe is a typical sourdough that ferments over a period of 10 days. On days, 6 and 10, you add ingredients to grow your starter. By the end, you'll have enough for 4 batches, or 8 loaves. This is why it's called friendship bread. Who needs 8 loaves at a time? Although, I'm sure my family could handle it.

Amish Friendship Bread Recipe
Please Note: DO NOT use any type of metal spoon or bowl for mixing. DO NOT refrigerate. It is normal for the batter to rise and ferment.

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 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:

   1. Pour the entire bag into a nonmetal bowl. Add 1 1/2 cup flour, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cup milk.
   2. Measure out 4 separate batters of 1 cup each into 4 1-gallon Ziploc bags.
   3. Keep one of the bags for yourself, and give the other bags to 3 friendship along with the recipe.
   4. To the remaining batter in a bowl add the following:

        3 eggs1 cup oil                                         1/2 teaspoon salt
        1/2 cup milk                                              1/2 teaspoon baking soda
        1 cup sugar                                               2 cups flour
        1/2 teaspoon vanilla                                  1-2 boxes instant pudding (any flavor)
        2 teaspoons cinnamon                             1 cup nuts and 1 cup raisins (optional)
        1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

In a separate bowl, mix an additional 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle half of it in 2 greased loaf pans. Pour the batter evenly into the pans and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture on the top. Bake at 325° F for one hour or until the bread loosens evenly from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.

It was an interesting process with the kids. Jake hated coming near the bag since it stinks. It is sourdough after all, though there's so much sugar in it you can't tell after it's baked. Zac, on the other hand, wanted to eat it every time I let him hold the bag. On day 6, Alyssa tipped it upside down and squeezed a cupful right out the top. Thankfully, she was still sitting on the counter. The kitchen smelled lovely after that.

That's ok. We can handle the smell when the end result is something so delicious.

I did keep a bag of starter. In another 6 days, we'll be baking again. There are so many variations for this batter. Blueberry. Cappuccino. Cinnamon rolls. Brownies. Cherry-pistachio? Carrot-coconut? No thank you. There are many non-sweet versions too. Sourdough bread and biscuits, pancakes, waffles, cornbread, muffins. If you can think of it, there's a recipe for it. You can also freeze your starter for later use. Simply let thaw on the counter for at least 3 hours before using.

I'm planning to hang on to a starter for a while so I can try some of these. Probably not the cherry-pistachio or the carrot-coconut. So, if you'd like to squish and mash a bag for 10 days, let me know. I'll have 3 more in 6 days, 3 more in 16 days, 3 more in 26 days . . . you get the point. I'll have plenty to share. Just ask! You won't be sorry.
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