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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Amish Friendship Bread

Every few years I go through the "I want to make Amish Friendship Bread" stage.  It is a wonderful Christmas morning treat...a great "stand alone" food gift ...and/or a lovely addition to a baked goods "tray", especially if you bake it in small molds.  Well, the urge has hit me again...so here I go!

I started on December 8th because it takes 10 days to get the starter fermented just right...and then I have it available to bake for my cookie trays and have starter to take with me to Austin to bake fresh for Christmas morning...or just fresh baked to give to my family while I'm there.

If you start now - you'll have a batch ready for Christmas baking - it is not too late!  I love this versatile recipe.  You can make it "as is" (the basic cinnamony bread) or you can add nuts, dried fruits, fresh fruits...all sorts of suggestions for additions may be found online.  Just Google Amish Friendship Bread recipes AND images....and you can spend a good while perusing the options!

Here's the recipe I use for a starter.  Someone gave it to me many years ago - with a cup of starter.  I can't wait to make my first batch of bread from this starter next week-end :-)

AMISH FRIENDSHIP BREAD STARTER

INGREDIENTS:
1 envelope (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (divided over the 10 days) - 1 cup for day one
3 cups white granulated sugar (divided over the 10 days) - 1 cup for day one
3 cups warm tepid milk (divided over the 10 days) - 1 cup for day one
   (I take the chill of with a quick zap in the microwave but don't get it too hot or you'll kill the yeast)

DIRECTIONS:
1.  In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Let it stand about 10 minutes. Do not stir...just let it sit.
2.  In a 2-3 quart glass or plastic bowl (just not metal) combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar.  Mix thoroughly with a hand whisk so lumps don't form when milk is added.
3.  Stir in 1 cup milk and the dissolved yeast mixture to the flour and sugar bowl - mix thoroughly, but slowly, with wooden or plastic spoon until smooth.
4.  Cover loosely and let stand - it should get bubbly.  Let it stand out of cold drafts - like you would a rising dough.  Many people use gallon size Ziploc bags for this process...and I have, as well...instead of stirring, you squish, squish, squish.  Each day, you let the air out (the yeasty air) that makes the bag puff up before you squish.  Beware of explosions!  Double bagging is a good option if you go this route (I don't recommend this route).

On Days 2 through 4, stir starter with a wooden or plastic spoon.  Leave out on the counter - do not refrigerate.  Keep loosely covered (I put a dishtowel over my bowl)

Day 5: 
Starter on Day Five - after feeding

Stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup of tepid milk to your fermenting mix.  Loosely cover and return to the counter storage position.

Days 6 through 9:  Stir starter with wooden or plastic spoon.  Loosely cover and return to counter storage position.

Day 10:
Stir in the final 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk.  You end up with 4 cups of starter.  Remove 1 cup to make your first bread immediately.  Divide the remaining starter into 1 cup containers.  Give 2 cups to friends along with this recipe below.  Store the remaining 1 cup (your extra cup) in the fridge so you will have "starter" on hand.

After you have a supply of starter.  Day 1 becomes:  "take the starter out of the refrigerator and stir".  Then follow the rest of the instructions above - starting with Day 2.

AMISH FRIENDSHIP BREAD

Ingredients:
1 cup fermented starter
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp. good vanilla
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup white granulated sugar
2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
I add a grating of fresh nutmeg (about 1/4 tsp - not on the original recipe)

Mix all ingredients thoroughly, by hand (do not over beat).  If you want to add nuts or fruits or even chocolate chips - this is the time to do it.  Many recipes also call for a small package of instant vanilla pudding. 

Grease two loaf pans or bundt pans with butter, sprinkle with sugar instead of flour (I use colored red sugars for holidays), divide the batter between the two containers, and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Cool 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool on smooth rack.  OR...

Prepare muffin pans or cute little molds perfect for one or two people (one in my family).  You'll have to adjust your baking time dependent on the volume of the pans used.  Fill molds about half way.  Try one closely-watched batch to determine cooking time (a toothpick comes out clean or crumbs attached)...then you can set your timer after that.

I also used very tiny molds...I overfilled them and they weren't as pretty.  They tasted good - but not as pretty as the other molds.  Key to all molds...don't overfill.  I'll try them again this year in hopes they don't rise above the edge - I may even add the pudding mix for a denser version for the tiny molds...and have bite size bits of friendship bread :-)  Here are photos of some of the molds I used last time I did this.  


I know this may sound overly complex for a few loaves of bread.  I only do it every 3 or 4 years...I have a hard time finding anyone who wants the starter.  It's a 10 day commitment during a busy time of year.  I enjoy having the starter for a while...then we get tired of the sweet bread and I end up tossing it down the drain.  I've read that you can freeze it, but wouldn't that kill the yeast?  Maybe not...I'm not a big bread baker - don't use much yeast.  Of course, frozen yeast dough does rise when you take it out to thaw...so my assumption must be wrong.  Maybe I'll test it out this year and see if it works a few months down the line!

Also, please note - Amish historians apparently say this "bread" is not traditionally Amish...but, the tradition of sharing baked sourdough bread with a sick neighbor is what the Amish call Friendship Bread.  Whatever you do with the excess - or your baked product - it's a great Christmas bread...so just have fun with it! 

Bon Appetit Y'all!!!

UPDATE December 22, 2010

Here are some photos of the Amish Friendship Bread I baked this morning.  I used green and red sugars in the molds...the green looks a little strange...I like the red better :-)

Red and Green Decorating Sugar in the greased molds before baking make these Christmassy looking
The little molds seen above - filled only half way with dough
Molded some dolphins with leftover cakepop chocolate coating
Made some vanilla/cinnamon glaze to decorate with - poor snowmen - didn't fare too well!
Decorated with glaze - piped from a Ziploc freezer bag
Dipped the tiny ones in a thin glaze which will dry to a very thin crisp shell - yummy

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1 comment:

  1. I made my first batch today - to share with a friend - and it was one day early...I just fed it and divided it...voila, it worked fine! I used a package of instant vanilla pudding in the batter...and it was considerably thicker than before as a result. The cake was more dense...and even then, it still did a big "rise" - so don't fill molds more than 1/2 way with batter. The tiny ones I did first - rose above the edge (not as bad as in previous years) but the little bundt shaped molds and Christmas molds came just to the edge...perfect...with 1/2 filled with batter guideline! I also decided to make a glaze to drizzle across them. Great addition - really delicious! I'll post photos later. Have to go shopping now!!!

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