Adventures in Amish Friendship Bread

Seems like every few years there’s a trend that goes around and everyone – I mean everyone – has to participate. (Remember those little trolls? Man, I loved those!)

I’ve been hearing about Amish Friendship Bread for a very long time now and have been offered starter from five different sources, but I turned everyone down because I thought it sounded kind of gimmicky… or just like a lot of bother. There’s simultaneously been a general rise in the number of baked goods brought into the office, so I’ve been munching this very moist and delectable coffee-cake-like-thing every so often as well as at all recent office functions. Of course it took me till last week to put the two together. Duh!

Once I knew that I actually *liked* the stuff, I got some starter off a friend of mine and set to work last week. The recipe is as follows:

  • Mash bag to mix together every day. If bag gets too full of air, let some out. Splode = bad.
  • Day 1: The day you receive the batter. Do nothing.
  • Day 6: Add to bag: 1 c flour, 1 c sugar, 1 c milk.
  • Day 10: Follow baking instructions below.

Pour out bag into bowl. Add 1.5 c flour, 1.5 c sugar, 1.5 c milk. Mix and measure out 4 cups: place 1 c into a separate ziplock bag. Give away 3 and keep one for yourself.

Add to remaining 2c (+/-) batter:  

  • 1 c oil
  • 0.5 c milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mix in a separate bowl and then add in:

  • 2 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp baking soda
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 boxes instant vanilla pudding
  • raisins, dried fruit, nuts as desired

Grease a bundt pan or 2 large loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour or till done (mine’s taken 1.5 hours).

But of course I can’t leave well enough alone. I hadn’t even tried my first batch yet, and I already saw lots of things I wanted to change. For one thing, the instant pudding. That had to go. Thinking that it might contribute some moisture, some dried milk, or something, I looked up the ingredients: sugar, starch, natural & artificial flavoring, salt, phosphates, coloring, and a few things I can’t pronounce. So much for that, then – nothing there that I particularly want to be ingesting. I added a little rum (in which I’d soaked a vanilla bean for 6 months) for a flavor boost instead.

The other problem I want to fix is that this recipe is frickin’ huge, even after all the excess to give away is taken out. It ended up being like 5-6 cups worth – and as you can see from the picture, it’s totally overflowing its pan (you shoulda seen it when it was all puffed up in the oven like some diabolical cinnamon souffle!).

On top of that, most of the bulk is not starter – the starter gets diluted right before you divide it, and then the diluted 2 cups you’re left with get diluted yet again. I’d guess – and I’m awful at math, so pardon me – but I’d guess you’re putting only about 1/3 c of fermented starter into the entire 5-6 cup batch. So really, what’s the point of the whole drama with the bag tending and mashing?

Well, it tastes good, and it smells divine. (I adore it when my whole house smells like cookies and cakes.)

But still, it seems wasteful to me to have to discard (because there’s no way I’ll find anyone left around here to give any to!) 3 cups worth, only to turn around and bulk it back up again and still make a recipe that’s too big for just our little family. Much flailing at math and pencil-chewing later, I think I’ve figured out that if I start with just 1/2 a cup of starter and halve the entire recipe, plus leave out the part at the end where I add an additional 2 c flour and 1 c sugar, I can: a) have a smaller recipe, and b) not have to throw away 3 cups of perfectly good starter.

This is all assuming, of course, that there’s not a perfectly good reason that the starter is so scant – like, say, if it tastes terrible. :(  Well, I’ll be letting you know in a week or so!

One Response to “Adventures in Amish Friendship Bread”

  1. Gingie Says:

    So….are you ready for Friendship Fruit Cake. It is out of this world! Alex impressed every Foodie in my office into 2nds…3rds…well….slice me a half for later 😉

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