Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Amish Friendship Bread

This recent bit of cooler weather, as well as the fact that school is in session again, has brought on thoughts of fall baking, and especially quick breads for some reason. While looking through my many bread recipes, I came across this old familiar recipe. I know we all love it, but it brings its share of frustrations as well!
Amish Friendship Bread starts with a fermented blend of yeast, flour, sugar and milk, then is made into delicious loaves of bread in various flavors. The part that drives many of us crazy is sharing baggies of the starter with friends, family, coworkers - until no one will take them. I've even heard of bags of starter being left on neighbors' front porches! I guess it was a case of ringing the doorbell and running away!
I'm not sure of the origins of this recipe, but it's been around for quite some time. After doing some research, it may or may not have any links to the Amish; however, there is a German recipe for Herman Cake, which begins with a similar starter and could possibly be related. Also, the Amish do make sourdough bread.
This recipe does have milk in it, and some might feel squeamish about keeping milk at room temperature for so long. I've never had negative results, but have read that water can be substituted. I have no idea how that would work, but think it might not have the “body” that milk would give the finished bread.
1 packet active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (110º)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in remaining ingredients. The easiest way to do this is to use a 1-gallon zip-close freezer bag. DO NOT use any type of metal spoon or mixing bowl. DO NOT refrigerate. If air gets in the bag during the fermentation time, let it out and reclose. It is normal for the batter to rise, bubble and ferment. It would be a good idea to write the date on the bag.
If you won't have time to bake the bread when you reach Day 10, the starter can be refrigerated or even frozen - it will keep for quite a long time.
However, if it should turn pink it has spoiled and should be thrown away.
This is Day 1.
Day 2: Squeeze the bag
Day 3: Squeeze the bag
Day 4: Squeeze the bag
Day 5: Squeeze the bag
Day 6: Add to the bag 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of milk. Squeeze the bag.
Day 7: Squeeze the bag
Day 8: Squeeze the bag
Day 9: Squeeze the bag
Day 10: Follow instructions below for delicious bread!
1. Pour the entire contents of bag into a non-metal bowl.
2. Add 1 ½ cups flour, 1 ½ cups sugar and 1 1/3 cups milk and stir with non-metal spoon.
3. Measure out four separate batches of starter, placing 1 cup each into 4 1-gallon freezer bags. Mark with the date. Keep one starter for yourself. Give the others away with a copy of the recipe (and maybe some of the finished bread!).
4. Heat the oven to 325º.
5. To the remaining batter in the bowl, add:
3 eggs
1 cup oil (or 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup applesauce)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large box vanilla instant pudding mix (be sure to use instant)
6. In small bowl combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Grease 2 large (or 6 small) loaf pans and sprinkle with half the mixture.
7. Pour the batter into the pans, level and sprinkle with remaining mixture.
8. Bake approximately 1 hour. Cool in pans until bread loosens, approximately 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
There are many flavor variations online, starting with the flavor of pudding you use. Try chocolate, butterscotch, lemon, even pistachio. And you can stir in whatever you like – chopped nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit, mashed bananas. Or replace the cinnamon with another spice. Bring out your creativity!
I hope you'll give this a try. I haven't done it in several years, but just might have to do it myself!
Enjoy these lovely, cooler days! As always, your suggestions and comments are welcome. Thanks for reading!

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