Thursday, December 30, 2010

Amish Friendship Bread

A fantastic holiday treat and a fun way to share with like minded, baker type friends - Amish Friendship Bread is a time tested classic.  The only problem?  Waiting for someone to give you a starter!!!  The last one I received must've been 6 or 7 years ago and that's just mean.  My stepmom swears by a recipe that has pudding in it (?!), but the one version I made did not involve pudding.  Here is a pudding inclusive recipe that also features some good Q&A about substitutions and such.
AllRecipes also features a recipe with tons of reader comments that may be helpful.
This starter will yield enough batter to make yourself a loaf and share with three of your friends.  Be sure not to use metal bowls or mixing tools for this - plastic, glass and wood only!  You can dress this bread up however you'd like.  We've done apples and raisins, chocolate chips, and my stepmom even did banana.
Now I don't recall needing to refrigerate this bad boy - despite the milk. . .someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think refrigerating it makes the yeast lazy and slows down the fermentation magic.  Put it in the fridge or freezer only if you're not baking your bread on day 10.

Super Secret Starter:
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (warm means 110 degrees F when you're working with yeast if you didn't know - I sure didn't the first time I encountered this direction)
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup white sugar
1 cup of warm milk (110 degrees F again)

In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water for 10 minutes or so, stirring well.
In a medium-large bowl, combine the flour and sugar mixing together to prevent lumps.
Slowly stir in the warm milk and the yeast.  Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap - it will go all bubbly and exciting as the yeasties chomp on all that sugar.  This is Day One of your bread.

Amish Friendship Bread (directions to include with the starter you share with your friends)
Note: The batter can be left in a bowl, covered, to do its thing.  If you'd prefer to give these gifts in a Ziploc bag, that works too - in that case you can just "massage" the batter around in the bag.  After day five you'll probably need to "burp" your bag so you don't come home to an exploded Amish mess.

Day One - the day you receive the starter (unless you're told otherwise by the giver!)

Day Two - stir the batter
Day Three - stir the batter
Day Four - stir the batter
Day Five - Add 1 cup each of sifted flour, sugar, and milk
Day Six - stir the batter
Day Seven - stir the batter
Day Eight - stir the batter
Day Nine - stir the batter
Day Ten - Add 1 cup each of sifted flour, sugar, and milk.  Separate into four, 1 cup portions and give three to friends.  With the fourth portion, do the following:
Add 2/3 cup oil
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Using a fork (yes it's okay to use metal now), or wooden spoon, beat by hand until well blended.  Add any additional treats now (raisins, nuts, etc.).
Grease two loaf pans with butter and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 325 F for 45 minutes to an hour until sides have pulled away and a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool and remove from pans.

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