Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Friendly Recipe

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the Herman starter for my version of Amish Friendship bread had reached maturation.  It is a test of one's patience indeed to wait ten days to bake something but ten days it must be!  Why?  I don't know because I can tell you with some degree of certainty that the starter has fermented LONG before the ten days are up.

I have also heard a respectable arguement raised that one can actually make Amish Friendship bread without using the fermented starter.  Personally, I feel that it makes a big difference in the flavor of the finished bread.  If not for the starter, you'd basically be making any other quick bread...zucchini, banana, pumpkin etc. 

While it is certainly easy enough to google Amish Friendship bread and be inundated with 101 variations, a common element of 99% of the online recipes use a box of instant vanilla pudding (or some other equally wretched artificially flavored kind).  Does anyone other than myself find it a bit strange that a traditional Amish recipe uses such a modern food of convenience?

Being highly suspect of the authenticy of said food, I asked a friend to ask her Amish friend about this.  The answer I got was...yes, most in fact do use it and the recipe has included the pudding mix since the late 60's.  I'm quite disillusioned!  My bubble has indeed been burst...LOL!

Luckily, I am in possession of a very old Amish cookbook which does NOT use the pudding mix and it is from this that I base my recipe.  As we all know, baking is not generally as forgiving as cooking but this recipe is one of those rare exceptions.  Aside from not baking the bread long enough, I've found that there isn't much I can do to mess it up.  Therein, I believe is the essense of the starter.  Unless you depart WILDLY from the recipe, the bread still rises perfectly.

As before mentioned, zucchini was the add -in of choice this time.  One 7 inch long (approximately 1 1/2 inch circumference) zucchini yields roughly 2 cups of shredds. 

Let's back up and quickly discuss the starter for a moment though.  If you have nothing and are totally beginning from scratch you will warm 1 cup of whole milk to about 105 but not more than 110 degrees  To this warm milk, stir in one envelope (about 2 1/4 tsp) yeast.  Do not use ANY metal utensils, bowls or other implements when making, stirring or storing your starter.  Allow the yeast to "bloom" for 10 minutes before stirring in 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup all purpose flour.  Cover the bowl and place in an out of the way warm place such as the back of the stove or even in the microwave where it will rest for 4 days.  You will stir it once each day.

On the 5th day, add 1 cup warm milk, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup all purpose flour.  Stir well, return the lid and stir once each day until the 10th day.  On the 10th day, feed the starter as usual.  Reserve 1 cup for preparing your bread.  Divide the remaining starter into 1 cup plastic containers.  Keep one to serve as your next starter and give the rest to friends along with a copy of the recipe or freeze them for another day.

Should you have a starter already, remove 1 cup from the fridge and allow it to stand at room temperature for 5 days, stirring once each day.  Feed on the 6th day.  Rest and stir until day 10 when you will feed, divide and store or give away the extra portions and bake your bread.  It goes without saying that you should begin this process in a large bowl else you'll only be transferring later as the starter grows.

One the 10th day...we bake!  One cup of the starter is sufficient for two loaves of friendship bread.

The basic recipe (as I make it) is as follows:

  • 2/3 cup grapeseed oil*  ( I know it is expensive, however I do not buy the whole health hype over canola oil which is NOT a healthy oil despite what you hear...however, if the grapeseed oil is too pricey, canola works just as well).
  • 3 large cage free organic eggs
  • 1/2 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup organic unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Place all the ingredients into the bowl with your one cup of starter and stir vigorously by hand until combined.  Do not use a mixer.  Mixture should be mostly lump-free.
  2. Butter and SUGAR (not flour) the insides of two loaf pans.  Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans.  Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour.  Prick with toothpick or cake tester to test doneness.
  3. Cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.  Warning:  Resistence to warm friendship bread slathered with butter is will be assimilated! 
Now for the add-ins...

To add anything like chopped nuts, raisins, cranberries, zest, chocolate chips, other or extra spices the basic recipe need not change.  The same is true for fresh blueberries.  Simply toss your add in with a bit of ap flour before stirring into the batter.  The flour coating helps to suspend your goodies in the batter and prevent everything from landing on the bottom of the loaf.

For Zucchini or Carrot Cake bread, the same is true.  However, if the weather is extremely humid you may find that an extra egg gives more lift.  I didn't happen to need one for the loaves I just made. 
  • Zucchini Walnut = basic recipe + 2 c. shredded zucchini + 1 c. chopped walnuts + 1/2 t. extra cinnamon + 1/2 t. ground mace.  *Dont shred zucchini in food processor...makes it to watery.
  • Carrot Nut = basic recipe + 2 c. shredded carrot + 1 c. chopped nuts of choice + 1/2 tsp extra cinnamon + 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Carrot Cake = basic recipe - 1/3 c. oil + 1 extra egg + 1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained + 1/2 cup shredded coconut + plus all the rest of the add-ins for Carrot Nut.
  • Banana Nut = basic recipe + 2 ripe bananas, pureed + 1/4 c. extra ap flour + 1 c. nuts of choice + 1 tsp. ground cardamom + extra cinnamon + optional 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Chocolate or Double Chocolate = basic recipe + 1/2 cup sifted cocoa powder + optional chopped nuts + optional orange zest and for double chocolate + 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks.
  • Lemon Blueberry = basic recipe + 2 cups fresh blueberries tossed in 1 T. ap flour + 2 T lemon zest + 1 T. lemon extract
  • Lemon Poppyseed = basic recipe + 2 T lemon zest, 2 T. lemon extract + 2 T. poppyseeds + optional lemon glaze made from powdered sugar and lemon juice.
  • Orange Cranberry = basic recipe + 3 T. orange juice concentrate, 2 T. orange zest and 1 cup dried cranberries
I could go on indefinately...the combinations are only as limited as your imagination.  A strusel topping can also be added to any of the breads...with or without oats.  I've even made them with a struself layer running through the center.  Instead of two loaf pans, you can bake the bread off in a bundt cake pan for one large, impressive looking loaf that is great for company.  Serve as a dessert or with your morning coffee.  Wrap and refrigerate leftover if there are any.  These loaves will dry out if not wrapped well and...they would mold rather quickly at room temperature because they are so moist.


Poolside breakfast!

(c)copyright Jill Anderson
The Homegrown Gourmet


  1. Great post. Well-written, researched, and photographed.


  2. What a great basic recipe and awesome combination ideas. Endless!

  3. I love friendship bread, and your version does look irresistible! I'm fascinated by the use of pudding as well, thanks for doing all the research. I love all the potential variations of this bread!

  4. Thank you Belinda and Jeanne!


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Fort Myers, Florida, United States