By Christine M. Irvin
Amish Friendship Bread – Starter Recipe
Perhaps you’ve heard of Amish Friendship Bread. Perhaps you’ve even tasted some, or had someone given you a starter for it. If so, then you’re familiar with the ritual of adding ingredients, stirring the mix, and then making bread every 10 days. If not, now’s the time to learn how easy it is to start your own Amish Friendship Bread so you can make fresh bread for yourself and share the starter with your friends. We’ve found the recipe and offer it here in this article.
The basic “starter” is made by simply mixing 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk, and 1 teaspoon yeast. Store the mixture in an airtight container. Let it sit overnight on the counter. That’s it; that’s day 1. The rest of the schedule is as follows:
Day 2: Stir mixture 2 or 3 times during the day.
Day 3: Repeat Day 2.
Day 4: Add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour and 1 cup milk. Stir to mix and stir 2 or 3 more times during the day.
Day 5: Repeat Day 2.
Day 6: Repeat Day 4.
Day 7: Repeat Day 2.
Day 8: Repeat Day 2.
Day 9: Repeat Day 2.
Day 10: Your dough is now ready to use. You will need only 1 cup of it to make bread. For each loaf you want to make, in a mixing bowl, add 1 cup of the starter mix to 1 cup each sugar, flour and milk (like you did in Day 2). You can make up to 5 loaves of bread with this starter mix, adding 1 cup of sugar, flour and milk to each cup of starter you want to use. If you want to share some starter mix, give the mix away in 1 cup increments (Be sure to share the recipe, too!). If you want to continue the starter for yourself, set aside 1 cup of the mix to use in another 10 days (following the scheduled above).
Cinnamon Friendship Bread: On Day 10, place 1 cup of starter into a large bowl and add 1 cup each sugar, flour and milk.
Then add the following, in order: 1 cup vegetable oil; 1 cup sugar; 1 tsp. vanilla extract; 3 eggs; 1 ½ tsp. baking powder; ½ tsp. salt; 2 cup flour; ½ cup milk; ½ tsp. baking soda; 1 large box instant vanilla pudding; and 2 tsp. cinnamon powder. Stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, mix together 3 tbsp. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon powder. Grease a loaf pan and then sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar mix to coat the sides. Add the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Banana Bread: Follow the above recipe for Cinnamon Friendship Bread until you’ve added the baking soda. Then add 1 large box instant banana pudding; 1 mashed banana; and ½ cup chopped walnuts. Bake as directed above.
Chocolate Bread: Follow the above recipe for Cinnamon Friendship Bread until you’ve added the baking soda. Then add 1 large box instant chocolate pudding; 1 tsp. cocoa powder; and ½ cup chocolate chips.
Sourdough Bread Starter: Sourdough Bread Starter is done a bit differently than starter for regular bread. For sourdough, the basic “starter” is made by first dissolving a package of yeast in ½ cup warm water. Then add 2 cups flour, 2 cups lukewarm water, 1 tbsp. sugar, and 1 tsp. salt. Beat the mixture together with a mixer on low-speed, until it is smooth. Store the mixture in an airtight container and let it sit on the counter for 4 days, stirring 2 or 3 times a day.
Then, add the following to it: 3/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons instant potatoes, and 1 cup warm water. Keep this mixture in the refrigerator until the day before you are ready to make bread. If you want to wait more than 3 or 4 days to make bread, add another round of sugar, instant potatoes and water to the starter. You can do this every 3 or 4 days, until the day before you’re ready to make bread. At that time, let the starter sit on the counter overnight instead of putting it back in the refrigerator.
The next day, mix the following ingredients together in a large bowl: 1 cup of sourdough starter, 1/2 cup Canola oil, 1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar; 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 1/2 cup warm water, and 6 cups flour. Mix together well. Cover bowl tightly and again let batter sit out all night.
To make the bread, remove dough from bowl and spray it with a cooking spray or lightly oil the palms of your hands. Knead the dough until it’s smooth like regular bread dough. Don’t be afraid of kneading it too much. When dough is ready, prepare loaf pans by spraying with cooking spray or lightly coating with canola oil. Divide the dough into equal parts and place dough into the cooking pans. You should have enough dough for 3-5 loaves of bread, depending on the size of the pans. Cover the dough with a clean towel and let it sit for about 12 hours (all day or all night).
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and bake approx. 25 minutes, or until the crust is a light, golden brown. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.
If this is your first time with a starter mix, relax and enjoy it. It’s much easier to work with than it sounds at first. Things to be aware of:
- Don’t refrigerate the starter mix. It needs to be left out at room temperature in order to ferment and be ready for bread baking.
- When the dough ferments, it will thicken and bubble. This is what it’s supposed to do.
- If Day 10 comes around and you are not ready to bake bread, you can retard the fermenting process by placing the starter in the refrigerator. It will last for several months before it spoils. If it turns pink, that means it has spoiled. You will need to throw that batter out and start over. DO NOT refrigerate unless you have gone through the 10-day cycle and you want to delay making bread.
- When making the above variations (i.e., banana and chocolate breads), be sure to use INSTANT pudding, not the type of pudding you have to cook.
- You can use vegetable oil or a cooking spray to coat the baking pans.
There seems to be some dispute as to the origin of this bread starter. It’s called Amish Friendship Bread, and some people believe the Amish were the first to come up with it. Wikipedia makes the claim that it was started in the 1990s, perhaps by a Girl Scout Troop. I don’t believe that’s right because I was given a starter for this type of bread way back in the early 1980s. According to the author of another article I read online, the Germans have a cake called Hermann cake that uses a starter. Since the Amish are of a German heritage, perhaps that’s where the claim, and the name, comes from.