Monday, December 10, 2007

Amish Friendship Bread

Amish Friendship BreadAm I the only who hadn't heard of this? A friend of mine gave me a beautiful loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and can I say that though the bread was tasty (okay upgrade that to delicious) it was kind of funny . . .

I mean, why is it called "Amish" Friendship Bread? As god-fearing and pious as the Amish are I hadn't thought of them as particularly friendly--given that whole situation of them living apart from the rest of the world and all--and it was the first gift I'd ever received with as many instructions and procedures as the space shuttle flight manual.

The bread is made using a starter similar to that in sourdough and you feed it for ten days until there is enough for ten loaves of bread--enough to keep some for yourselves and to give some away. Though I warn you now if you don't watch yourself you could find your world drowning in friendship as the batter begins to take over your kitchen in a replicating phenomenon rivaled only by gremlins.

Legend has it that the original starter came from the Amish and that if you mess up and run out of starter, you're doomed. Doomed, do you hear? Maybe the recipe should include a mystic warning like a chain letter, something like: "If you let your starter run out very bad luck will befall you and all who eat the last loaf of bread so for the love of all that is fermented don't let the starter run out!"

They say the only way to get more is to go to the Amish and live amongst them, learning their ways, until they decide to give you some more. But lucky for you I have a simpler way. Here's the recipe from "starter" to finish--give it a go and see what you think--it would make a nice Christmas gift to pass out to friends. Even if they're not Amish.

Day One:
1 quarter-ounce package yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup milk

Dissolve the yeast in the water and let it stand 10 minutes. Then in a large plastic Ziploc bag combine the flour and sugar, mixing thoroughly. Slowly stir in the milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Close the bag and let it stand overnight while the mixture becomes bubbly. If, over the next few days the bag inflates (and it should or else you've got lazy, good-for-nothin' yeast) just let the air out and seal it up again.

Day Two:
Mush the bag.

Day Three:
Mush the bag again.

Day Four:
Keep mushing.

Day Five:
Amish Friendship BreadBy now you've really built up those mushing muscles so mush it again.

Day Six:
Add to the bag 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of milk and stir thoroughly.

Day Seven:
Mush on, my friend.

Day Eight:
Mush-a-mush-a-mush-a . . .

Day Nine:
Mush! Mush! Mush!

Day Ten:
Now the fun part comes. Pour the mixture into in a non-metal bowl and add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups milk and stir until the batter is smooth (see that top picture). Then measure the batter into four new Ziploc bags, with 1 cup of batter in each bag. Keep one of the four bags of starter for yourself and give the other three away to friends so they have the starter too.

Take the remaining starter, the batter that is left after the four cups of starter have been measured out, and add:

3 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce (or pumpkin which I quite liked)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup chopped nuts

Amish Friendship BreadGrease two loaf pans. Mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle it in the loaf pans. Divide the batter between the two pans and sprinkle with the remaining sugar and cinnamon mixture. See the picture at left. Ooops! I guess I forgot to take a picture of my loaves--the best I've got to offer is my Reese's Peanut Butter cup. Mmmmmm . . .

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and allow to cool before slicing. I thought it was wonderful bread but using the cinnamon, spices and pumpkin covers the sourdough taste. I couldn't tell a difference between this bread and any other sweet cake bread so it may not warrant all that extra time and effort but you just can't beat making a bread that comes with its very own scary legend so you be the judge.

If you keep one of the four bags of starter for yourself you can start over at Day Two--but you can see how this can grow into something much bigger than any of us. After one month if you fail to give away the starter, you'll be overtaken by approximately 3,467 gallons of sourdough starter and will be baking bread into the millenium. Perhaps "friendship" has nothing to do with it and this sneaky, vicious cycle is the Amish's bid to take over the world, one loaf at a time. Lucky for me it's darn yummy stuff.

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51 comments:

frog ponds rock... said...

I am so pleased that I have found your blog... I am going to make this and it will be interesting to see how it goes down here with the summer heat...cheers kim

p.s I should really start to post some of my Nan's recipes.. My nan is 84 and I have her mothers recipes for xmas pudding and chutney and stuff.. would you be interested???

deborah said...

Oh yes, we passed it around here a few months ago. I took my extra loaves out of the freezer for Thanksgiving.

I tried a twist with a box of lemon pudding and cranberries for one recipe. I wasn't too crazy about it.

Phyllis Sommer said...

i got one once...the recipe that came with it had vanilla pudding mix in it, and the result was incredible. it was the first time i'd ever sprinkled the pan with cinnamon-sugar, so my favorite part was the crusty cinnamon outside...i've started doing that for other quick bread recipes with great success...yum!!! i think this is too much work for me right now but thanks for the reminder of this fun project...

G's Cottage said...

I will email you a link for Erik Wesner's blog Amish America. Not all Amish are created equal, and some are very friendly. Often it relates to their history with outsiders.

Mary Alice said...

Oh, we used to do this. At the time we lived in a REALLY small town, it got passed around so many times people had several starters on their kitchen counters. It got so that people would stop answering the door, just in case it was ANOTHER starter. It became known as "Enemy Bread" All kidding aside, it was delicious...I especially liked adding a few blackberries to the batter before baking.

Jeana said...

Someone gave me some once, and the instructions called for me to add a box of vanilla instant pudding. This cracked me up. Somehow I never linked the Amish and instant pudding together. Maybe Bill Cosby visited their farm on vacation and traded some pudding for a few faceless dolls?

Stephanie said...

I just got some of this a few weeks ago. I did some checking, and yes the recipe for the starter is on the web, and you can freeze the starter if you want to be able to make it again, but not have to keep up with it every ten days. You can also feed the starter less to slow down the whole process. I'm making a bunch of mini loaves of these for Christmas!

Rani said...

We just baked 10 loaves yesterday. I do it about every other month and freeze the leftovers for fast, quick breakfasts and snacks...I was passing it around until people starting locking their doors when I pulled in the driveway...

Irene said...

A friend gave me a bag once many years ago. I also think her recipe included vanilla pudding. It DID make the most incredible bread. I always wanted to try it again. Maybe I will!

Amy said...

Wow! All I can say is that it sounds very nice, but like a lot of work :) I think I am too lazy for this recipe :)

ames said...

10 days, wow! I'm afraid I'd lose track after about day 4 and my house would turn into a giant ball of sourdough. It must be friendship friend because it forces you to make friends (alliances?) to stem the starter invasion.

A pretty cool tradition though, community bread! One person initiates it and suddenly everyone in the town is baking bread, yum!

ames said...

friendship friend? I meant to say friendship bread. I need more coffee...

Melissa Markham said...

It is all part of an insidious plot to take over the world! We don't eat bread fast enough to keep up with the starter recipes, but they make such yummy tasting bread!

My mom used to make English muffins with her sour dough starter. Yummy!

Kelly @ Love Well said...

It seems to me that the Amish bread starter goes through cycles within my friendship circles. For a while, everyone has some, everyone is making the bread. Then, slowly, the phenomenon dies out. Because we realize we're feeding our starter bags more than our families.

And frankly, after this last round, I decided I'm not doing it anymore. I love baking, but this bread is only so-so. It's not worth the time and the effort.

However, I had to share this quote I found a few years ago. I used to put it on the top of the recipe page I would pass off to my friends: "To the best of our knowledge this bread has no connection to the Amish and, quite frankly, after you burden your friends with their share of the starter, it may have precious little to do with friendship."

Maria said...

Oh I had that before! It's delicious!

Lynn / vigilant20 said...

Funny, we were just talking about this at work today. It is good bread, but way too sweet to have very often, and soooo wasteful. Someone needs to figure out how to avoid making all of those extras and then it might be worth it.

Janet said...

I'm with Amy - I'm afraid I'm too lazy to try this. However, my sister-in-law did it, and the bread is SO delicious (she did an apple variation that was yummy),that I may just have to try it anyway. After Christmas.

Lara said...

I got some of this a few months ago and I did make it, although I wasn't very good at the mushing part. I had vanilla pudding in the recipe, too. Very yummy when all was said and done.

I didn't give away any starter. Sat on my counter for a few days...okay, weeks,...before I finally threw it away. Did I mention I'm not much of a cook?

It was the best bread I've ever had, though.

Wendy said...

So it's going around up there, too? Fascinating. It spreads like the flu across the nation!

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

This is an interesting article on how to "manage" your starter so you don't get drowned in bread. . .

http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/baking_joy/85474

Personally I make the recipe with the pudding-which like the previous commenter always gave me a giggle. You know those Amish and their instant pudding mix. . .

Scribbit said...

Okay I guess this answers my question--I'm AM the last persons to hear of this stuff. Apparently I have no friends so no friendship bread. :)

And you've caught me, the recipe I had called for a box of pudding in the mix but I didn't have any when I made it so I just used extra pumpkin/applesauce. And I added more spices too--

Blackberries sound heavenly.

Terri said...

I've made similar bread from similar starters and though it's delicious, it is too easy for me to forget about feeding the starter and mushing, etc.

Loralee Choate said...

I laughed my ass off at this post. Who knew that yeast and the Amish could elicit such hilarious wittiness?

P.S. The "Gremlin" thing? BWAH HA HA HA!

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I've recieved many of these in my lifetime and I'm always left thinking, "If you were my real friend wouldn't you bake the bread for me instead of giving me a bag of goo?" I'm just lazy like that. However, I do have a sourdough start in my fridge and I love using it.

Average Jane said...

I dropped a Ziploc bag of friendship bread starter once. What a nightmare! It adhered to one of my floor vents so tenaciously that I eventually ended up painting over it.

The bread is good, though. ;)

luckyzmom said...

About 20 years ago (that was before ziploc bags) I let my friendship starter run out. About ten years later I went to Amish country in Pennsylvania and experienced bad luck when I tried the sho fly pie.

Friends don't let friends in the door with friendship starter!

Lissete said...

I love Friendship bread! Yummy!Unfortunately, none of my friends like to bake! So I usually end up making a bunch of loaves myself!

Heffalump said...

With all that mushing it sounds more like a dog sled race...

Tammy said...

Ohhh, too funny! I was laughing out loud as I read your post. I have never been given Amish friendship bread starter, but I've had it before, and I have thought of starting my own.

Heather said...

i live in amish country, some are friendly, some are not, it just depends.

i will have to try this bread, though. sounds yummy and like something fun to do with the kids.

The Preacher's Wife said...

This is some tasty, troublesome stuff. I'm with you on the conspiracy theory.

Lisa

Leslie said...

Yay! I've always wondered what exactly was in the starter. I love Amish Friendship bread.

We live just miles from Amish country - in fact, just miles from the world's largest Amish community. We have the chance to interact with them quite a bit. We shop a lot there. And the men we have work on our house when something needs fixed are Amish. They're pretty friendly people. We'll even see them at our local stores, carrying cell phones and using their credit cards. Although, they aren't old order Amish (they really keep to themselves). In fact, the old order Amish in our area don't allow the women to wear shoes! There's nothing like driving past a big old Amish house and seeing a woman out hanging laundry in the snow, with no shoes on!

Amy W said...

thanks for posting this, I have been wanting to do this!!

Sonja said...

I have always been intrigued by the Amish culture. This bread is especially intriguing to me. How can something so good come from something so fermented and yucky? (I guess that goes for a lot of things)
Next time I get a start I will try it with pumpkin. I'm also with Ice Cream, though-- if they were REALLY my friend....

MSBABY said...

I truly admire anybody who has the discipline to keep their starter alive. As much as I LOVE the bread, I kept missing my "feeding times" and my poor starter would croak! After reading your post I might beg another start from my neighbor!

Jan from http://www.unique-baby-gear-ideas.com/baby-gear-blog.html

Rick said...

Another gift with some assembly required.

http://organizeddoodles.blogspot.com/

Trixie said...

Hello,

I love Amish Friendship bread; it is so delicious!

I've tried keeping the starter on hand a few different times. It sure gets away from me quickly though, and I'm buried up to my eyeballs in bread. Need more friends and neighbors, I guess:)

Take Care,

Trixie

Babystepper said...

Yes, the bread is delicious, but frankly, I don't the self-discipline to continue the whole process.

Good thing I married Mennonite Brethren instead of Amish.

SabineM said...

I made it once and you are right it was delicious!
Thanks for reminding me.
I used to live in PA very near to the Amish. I never thought of them unfriendly, though I guess it could be perceived that way. I just can't imagine living without all the modern technology surrounding by people who use all those modern technologies...
I cannot imagine what it must be like as a teenager growing up as an Amish and seeing people drive by (while talking on their cell phone) while you are riding in your horse drawn buggy!
We used to buy baked goods and Jams from the Amish. Always really yummy!

Qtpies7 said...

I love Amish Friendship bread! The Amish are very friendly to each other, unless you are shunned, but they love to bake and share with each other. That is why it is friendship bread.

But for those of you who are not good at keeping up with things, you can actually freeze the batter! Thaw and start from there later. Because if you go on vacation, your starter has to go with you or die. Or you can get a sitter for it. Or just pop it in the freezer.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

How on earth did you go about making something like Amish Friendship bread such a terrifing "monster" in my kitchen :)

Seriously, sounds yummy!

Amy said...

Being originally from an area inhabited by lots of Amish...I am familiar with this bread...my recipe though has a point in it with the starters where you can choose to add chocolate or vanilla pudding mix...very yummy...anyway amish people are friendly I would just say quiet and kind of humble I guess would be the word...This post is really funny though..I know what you mean about it taking over your kitchen

Ter said...

my mom once got a starter and bread and it was sooo good but we never knew the recipe for the starter.... so I looked it up but haven't yet tried any of the recipes I found. I really should try it sometime!

Tana said...

Not knowing anything about Amish friendship, I took 2 starters. I accidentally waited a day and a half to add the flour, sugar and milk on the 6th day. Is this ok? When it says to "mush" I tend to mush it in the bag passing by it several times a day. Is this ok? I've added 1 c flour, sugar and milk to 2 starters (6th day). Can I freeze one now before ending the whole process with two? I'd like ideas of additional ingredients.

Scribbit said...

Yes, Tana I think you can freeze it at that point--though I'm no expert.

Tana said...

Yeah: Today I made the two loaves of bread. I have ruined recipes before and thought I would blow this one too, but I didn't. I was so pleasantly surprised. The cakes turned out delicious, moist, perfect. It was a lot of work, though and a whole lot of flour and sugar. I had taken 2 starter bags from my friend (not knowing) mushing both daily but when I realized the difficult process even coming down to baking and all the extra ingredients I decided to freeze the other one. The work was worth it. Thanks, Tana

Tana said...

I'm confused (not unusual). In "Tips for Making a Cake" it says to "mix the fat and the sugar together thoroughly, THEN it says mix all the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately and add alternate between dry and wet ingredients. Excuse me but I thought eggs are a wet ingredient and that sugar is a dry ingredient. Tana

Scribbit said...

Ah you really pay attention Tana! Wow, what a memory!

As for the eggs, they are usually added one at a time after the creaming (fat+sugar) process and before alternately adding the dry and wet ingredients. So with that, no they aren't considered wet ingredients. With quick breads (like Amish bread) though it's a different story, they're more like a muffin than a cake (thought they taste similar)and follow different rules.

Does this answer your question?

Tana said...

Thank you for answering my post. Yes, that does answer it, thank you. After all these years I'm expanding my knowledge in cooking techniques (either that or I knew these things before but forgot that I knew them) Thanks, Tana

valykat said...

I am looking for a recipe to make the bread if you don't give away any starter, just keep one cup for yourself. Anyone know how to modify the recipe and how many loaves you would make?

Valerie A Martin said...

I've made this with a small box of chocolate and a small box of vanilla pudding and it makes an AWESOME bread - I left out the cinnamon when you use chocolate - you can also use banana pudding and bananas.