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Amish friendship bread from scratch. January 13, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. Way back in 2008, I posted about the ubiquitous Amish friendship bread in two posts, “Amish friendship ‘bread’ ” and “Amish friendship bread gone wild,” which have been two of the most popular posts ever to appear on Poor Richard’s Almanac, racking up many thousands of views.

Amish friendship bread is a fraud. First, it’s not Amish (even William Woys Weaver, the preeminent food historian of the Pennsylvania Dutch, including the Amish and Mennonites, admits that he has no idea how this recipe came to be associated with the Amish). And second, it’s not bread. Instead, it’s a recipe for loaves of sweet, cinnamon-spiced coffee cake or sweet bread. It’s absolutely delicious, and it’s easy to make, but how it came to be called “Amish friendship bread” is a mystery.

If you’d like to see how to make this wonderful cake, search on our blog for “Amish friendship ‘bread’.” You’ll find some great reader comments for variations on the recipe, from making sourdough bread to brownies and muffins. What you won’t find is a recipe to make the starter to begin with, as opposed to inheriting it from a friend, neighbor, or family member. For that, I’m indebted to an article by Diane Stoneback, “Wanna start something?” in today’s local paper, the Allentown PA Morning Call.  (You can read the article in its entirety at www.themorningcall.com.)

I, er, hadn’t realized that you could simply make up the starter from scratch. (Typically, you inherit a bag of Amish friendship bread starter from a friend or coworker.) But in the article, Sharon Land shares a recipe for the starter itself. Here are her recipes for the starter and the finished “bread”:

        Amish Friendship Bread Starter

1 pkg. active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)

3 cups all-purpose flour, divided

3 cups white sugar, divided

3 cups warm milk (110 degrees), divided

Before starting, remember: Do not use metal bowls or utensils. Do not refrigerate. The starter will take 10 days to ferment.

Day 1: In a small bowl, soften yeast in warm water for about 10 minutes. Stir well. In a 2-quart glass or ceramic bowl, combine 1 cup sifted flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or flour will lump when milk is added.  Slowly stir in 1 cup warm milk and the dissolved yeast mixture. Cover loosely with lid or plastic wrap. The mixture will get bubbly. Consider this Day 1 of the cycle.

Days 2 through 4: Stir mixture with a wooden or plastic spoon once a day.

Day 5: Stir with wooden or plastic spoon. Then add 1 cup sifted flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup warm milk and stir.

Days 6 through 9: Stir mixture with a wooden or plastic spoon once a day.

Day 10: Stir with wooden or plastic spoon. Then add 1 cup sifted flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup warm milk and stir. Remove 1 cup of batter to make your first friendship bread. Reserve another cup to begin the 10-day process all over again. Then give 1-cup portions of starter to your friends in 1-gallon Ziploc bags, along with copies of the recipes for starter and friendship bread.*

Note: You can freeze any leftover starter. It will take at least 3 hours at room temperature to thaw it before using it. Do not thaw starter in the microwave or you’ll kill the yeast!

        Amish Friendship Bread

1 cup starter

3 eggs

1 cup canola oil

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

1-2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 large or two small boxes instant vanilla pudding

For the topping:

1 teaspoon cinnamon, or more to taste

2 tablespoons sugar, or more to taste

Pour the batter in equal amounts in two well-greased loaf pans and top with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake at 325 degrees F. for about an hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Diane Stoneback was also kind enough to provide three yummy-sounding variations she found on www.foodgeeks.com:

Variation 1: Substitute lemon pudding for vanilla pudding and lemon extract for vanilla extract. Add 1 tablespoon poppyseeds to the batter.

Variation 2: Substitute banana pudding for vanilla pudding and add two mashed bananas to the batter.

Variation 3: Substitute coconut pudding for the vanilla pudding and coconut extract for the vanilla extract. Add 1 cup shredded coconut to the batter.

According to the article, you can find additional recipes for making coffeecake, pancakes and cookies with the starter at www.themorningcall.com, but when I went to the site, I could find the article but not the additional recipes. Then again, I’m a Luddite. Try your luck!

         ‘Til next time,


* Normally, instead of making your own starter, you’d “inherit” a 1-gallon Ziploc bag with a one-cup portion of starter from a friend. You’d bring the bag home and set it on the kitchen counter for the first day (Day 1). On Days 2-4, you’d give the bag a few good squeezes once or twice a day. On Day 5, you’d squeeze the bag, add 1 cup each of flour, sugar, and warm milk, seal the bag, and squeeze again to combine the new ingredients into the batter. Days 6-9, back to squeezing the bag. Day 10: Squeeze bag, again add 1 cup each flour, sugar and warm milk. Remove 1 cup and make your loaves of Amish friendship bread. Pour 1 cup each into 3 new 1-gallon Ziploc bags and hand them out along with the recipe. Reserve the final cup of starter in the original bag and start the cycle over.


More wacky blog searches. October 29, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben is always fascinated by the search phrases people use to find our blog (thank you, WordPress, for sharing them with us), but the last couple of days have produced some real doozies. We’ve had people coming over here looking for “What do white trash eat?” and for “unwilling creampie,” a definite first, as well as for “how to quit the amish bread cycle” (we can only sympathize). (In case you’re unfamiliar with Amish friendship bread and why someone would want to escape from its clutches, check out Silence Dogood’s earlier post, “Amish friendship ‘bread’.”)

Perhaps Silence should write a followup post called “50 Ways to Leave Your Amish Friendship Bread,” but we’re actually more intrigued by two other searches that brought readers to Poor Richard’s Almanac. The first was “rice pudding cooked in rice cooker.” Hmmm. Rice pudding in a slow cooker, sure; rice pudding in a rice cooker, we don’t think so. But Silence is on the case, and you should hear more about this in a future post. And the second was “the sweetest fragrance.” That one really got us going. What is the sweetest fragrance, anyway? We don’t have a clue. So we’ve set our friend and fellow blog contributor Richard Saunders in pursuit of the answer, and no doubt he’ll be posting soon about this.

As always, we’re grateful to all of you for inspiring us to learn things that we don’t know and wouldn’t think of trying to find out if you didn’t prod us through your searches. (You’re always welcome to just come on out and ask us, too, if there’s something you particularly want to know.) And we’re grateful to those of you who search for funny things and make us laugh. It really brightens our day!