A couple of weeks ago, my daughter offered me some starter for Amish Friendship Bread. I’m a sucker when it comes to baking something new, so I said, “Why not?” and gave it a try.

The starter has to be kept in a non-metal container. I received mine in a Ziploc bag. There are two basic rules when making Amish Friendship Bread. No metal containers, bowls, or spoons maybe used. Also, don’t refrigerate the mixture, because it needs to ferment. I love the idea of fermentation, I guess because it means the batter is alive. 

The procedure is as follows:  
 
Day 1: Let it sit there on the counter. Leave it alone.

Days 2 through 5: Squeeze the bag several times (or stir the starter if it’s in another sort of container). If air gets in the bag, you can let it out. This is normal in the fermentation process.

Somewhere along about here, you start attracting friends. Mine were a cockroach (who bit a hole in the bag) and a procession of ants (who came for the feast). Fortunately, they didn’t get much before I realized what was going on and moved the bag to a location the bugs couldn’t reach. (Not that I want to deprive any living creatures of sustenance, mind you. I rather like bugs. But that's another story.)

Day 6: Add 1 cup white whole wheat flour, 1 cup dark brown sugar, and 1 cup milk. (I used whole milk because that’s what I had.)

Day 7 through 9: Squeeze or stir as above.

Day 10: Using a non-metal bowl, combine the batter from the bag, 1 cup white whole wheat flour, 1 cup dark brown sugar, and 1 cup milk. Mix it with a wooden spoon. Pour four 1 cup starters into new containers. I made an awful mess pouring it into the Ziploc bags, and – gasp! – I forgot and used a metal measuring cup. Give three of the bags away and keep the last for yourself. (I decided not to alienate anyone by giving them one of my messy, pest-attracting bags, so I put them in the fridge, where I'm told they'll keep for a good while.)

To the remainder of the batter, add the following (mixing the dry ingredients together before adding them): 1 cup oil (I used Canola), ½ cup milk, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup dark brown sugar, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and 2 cups white whole wheat flour.  I forgot and used a metal spoon for a short while with this, too… but I guess as long as the contact with metal is brief and minimal, it doesn’t matter. 

Grease 2 bread pans well and dust them with cinnamon sugar. (YUM. This is a really, really great idea.) Since I prefer fruit breads, I added diced peel (lemon and orange) and diced candied cherries (red and green) to the batter for one loaf (about 1 cup fruit in all) mostly because I had all that stuff left over from something I made for a Christmas party, so it really needed to be used up. To the other loaf, I added 1 cup of currants. Both worked well, but I liked the one with currants better.

Pour the batter into the pans and bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour. Voila! 

Then start all over, or refrigerate the starter for a while until you’re ready to go through this again. By the time I got the batter divided into bags and the pans in the oven, I was swearing I'd never, ever bother with it again. When I tasted the bread.... Wow. Amazing with a capital A. I took a picture, but it just doesn't do the bread justice, so I'm not posting it here. Suffice it to say I'm working on a new batch now.

(P.S. If you need some starter, I have a couple of those messy bags in my fridge. Better yet, try your cookbook or the Internet, find a recipe, and make it yourself -- it's easy.)

15 comments

  1. Beth Trissel // May 31, 2011 at 8:07 AM  

    I've made this bread! Our whole family made this bread. It's delicious but 'grows' as you discovered which leaves you looking for a home for your extra starters.

  2. Mona Risk // May 31, 2011 at 10:58 AM  

    Barbara, it looks like you had fun making this delicious bread. There is no way on earth I would even try it. I have no patience for baking bread when you can buy it from good bakery. LOL then I remind myself that bread has a tendency to land on your hips!

  3. Barbara Monajem // May 31, 2011 at 12:14 PM  

    Beth - Since I work from home, I don't see all that many people each day, so getting rid of the extra starters just isn't happening. Ah, well.

    Mona - This is better than most bakery quick breads I've had (not that this really qualifies as quick, lol), but the hips are definitely an issue.

  4. Judy // May 31, 2011 at 1:25 PM  

    So much fun. It's like the sourdough mixture that I used to use for bread - always setting some aside for the next batch.

  5. Scarlet Pumpernickel // May 31, 2011 at 3:16 PM  

    Barbara, I want one! Don't care if it is messy. I want to make some Amish Friendship Bread. Maybe you could bring some to the next GRW meeting? I'm sure there would be lots of us who wanted to try to make it.

  6. Mary Marvella // May 31, 2011 at 3:18 PM  

    I tried this years ago and loved it. I also ran out pf people to gift with it. I'll take some at the next GRW meeting.

  7. Mary Ricksen // May 31, 2011 at 4:14 PM  

    I never heard of this bread before Barbara. But it reminds me of a fruit starter kinda thing my mom had years ago. She added to the fermenting fruit and gave to the whole neighborhood. I bet there was alcohol in it, and it was wonderful stuff. Cool! Bread too! All we need is the cheese!

  8. Barbara Monajem // May 31, 2011 at 4:57 PM  

    Judy - I've never tried sourdough bread, but I mean to sometime soon.

  9. Barbara Monajem // May 31, 2011 at 4:57 PM  

    Scarlet and Mary M -- LOL! I will try to remember to bring some to the meeting.

  10. Barbara Monajem // May 31, 2011 at 4:59 PM  

    Mary R - I had some fermenting cantaloupe the other day. You could definitely taste the alcohol. Maybe you could post your mom's recipe to the Fuzzies some day.

  11. Autumn Jordon // May 31, 2011 at 8:40 PM  

    What a fun post. I love to bake and I remember one time my aunt was doing this. I'll have to try it. I love great breads.

  12. Barbara Monajem // June 1, 2011 at 12:11 AM  

    Autumn - I love to bake, too, particularly quick breads with fruit in them -- banana bread, cranberry bread, tea brack with raisins, and now friendship bread.

  13. Pamela Varnado // June 1, 2011 at 12:25 AM  

    Okay, Barbara. You're going to have to bring some of this bread to the next GRW meeting. It sounds delicious, but I don't have the patience to make it. I'm a give-it-to-me-now kind of woman.

  14. Barbara Monajem // June 1, 2011 at 11:53 AM  

    Hi, Pam -- If the timing is right, I'll bring some bread. Otherwise, we'll just have to meet for coffee and bread-transfer some other day.

  15. Josie // June 2, 2011 at 10:12 PM  

    Barbara,
    Thank you for sharing the recipe for this bread. Like Beth, I've also made this bread before. And, I have an Amish inspirational romance percolating, so I'll have to remember to reference this bread in the manuscript.