Monday, July 26, 2010

Amish Friendship Bread: The Real Food Remix


Late last summer I received one of those fun baggies of Amish friendship bread starter along with an instruction sheet and basic recipe.  I kept it up for several weeks and made countless variations of really yummy, not so healthy bread.  Fast forward to the fall, and I was still keeping up some starter for myself (I had exhausted the list of locals that were interested in getting their very own baggie by this point), and I had morning sickness.  Yep, 24/7 nausea complete with a hyper sensitive sense of smell.  I couldn't go anywhere near my kitchen without smelling the sickly sweet yeasty smell of Amish friendship bread starter.  Forget about actually opening the bag to feed it or make bread.  So, I put my baggie in the freezer to use another day.  

Flash forward to early this summer, and we're well into our real food journey.  I got to thinking about that baggie in my freezer and the moist, cake-like breads I could make with it.  Yum!  Then, I remembered the pudding mix and loads of cooking oil the recipe calls for.  Not so yum.  So, I found an Amish bread recipe that didn't call for pudding mix and went from there.  To my neighbors' relief, I decided to forget the whole feed, split, share routine; I just keep my starter in a glass jar with a lid and feed it enough to keep it going for my uses.  I do, however, share loaves of baked bread!      
Friendship bread starter in a jar.  Looks appetizing, no?
The Method

When I decided to thaw my starter, I had trouble finding specific instructions for thawing on the net.  I wasn't sure if I should feed my starter right away or wait and "mush" the bag a few days first.  I finally decided that it really doesn't matter.  Amish friendship bread starter is basically just a flavor enhancer and doesn't really need to be active or mature like a sourdough.  So, I thawed it out overnight, fed it right away with one cup of whole wheat flour, one cup of rapadura, and one cup of milk, and proceeded to make a batch of friendship bread.  Since that initial feeding, I've been feeding 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 milk, and 1/4 cup of rapadura; rapadura is expensive and half the sugar is still plenty to sustain the yeast in the starter.  I feed about once a week.  I shake my jar a little whenever I think about it.  You wouldn't know it by those fussy instruction sheets that get passed around with the bags, but this stuff is really very forgiving.

The original starter had been fed whole wheat flour and white sugar, so my first few batches of bread did have some white sugar in them.  Not a huge deal to me, but if you want to start a 100% naturally sweetened starter (or you just haven't been blessed with a baggie of late), you can follow the instructions here to start your very own...even if you're not Amish.  Really.  Just substitute whole wheat for all purpose flour and rapadura, or natural sweetener of your choice, for the sugar (I haven't tried it with honey or maple, so not sure how a liquid sweetener would work; it may be okay if you reduced the milk?).  

The Recipe 

1 cup starter
2/3 cup virgin coconut oil, butter, palm shortening, or combination (bread will not be as moist if you use all butter)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup rapadura
(the original calls for 1 cup of sugar, but we like it fine with half of that, even with my less sweet starter)
2 cups whole wheat flour (I sometimes use pastry ww flour)
3 eggs

1/2 cup mashed banana, shredded zucchini, or applesauce
1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Optional mix-ins:  raisins, chocolate chips, berries, nuts 

If you're not worried about soaking overnight to reduce phytates in the whole wheat flour, you can just mix these ingredients and bake them at 325 degrees in 2 well greased loaf pans for 45 minutes to an hour (I know this seems like a wide range, but it really depends on your oven, mix ins, etc.; mine usually takes 50-55 minutes). 

If you do want to soak, mix the starter, flour, oil, and rapadura in a non-metal, non-plastic bowl.  I'm not positive that this starter is acidic enough to break down phytates, so I throw in a TBS or so of whey just to be sure I'm not soaking in vain (you could use yogurt or cultured buttermilk instead of whey).  Cover your bowl with a plate, and leave on the counter overnight.

Expect a really thick batter.
After the soaking period, mix in the rest of the ingredients except for the optional mix-in's (don't over-mix).  Gently fold in the mix in's.  

It's still pretty thick even after the rest of the ingredients are mixed in
Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pans. Makes two loaves of Amish Friendship bread.

Caveat:  Don't turn your back on fresh friendship bread if you have a hungry toddler in the house... might just end up with a chunk missing before you even get a chance to take a picture of it out of the pan.

This post is part of Tuesday Twister at GNOWFGLIN'S!


  1. I wish that hungry toddler was in my house right now!! I wouldn't mind having the other three here either :-) Miss you guys!

  2. Nice blog...good luck and have a nice day :-)
    Konto dla mlodziezy

  3. That looks really good. I'm saving it to make later. Thanks for sharing!

  4. My problem with breads is that I don't have kids to help me eat it.... I do it all by myself.... especially when it is hot and fresh, right out of the oven!! :(


  5. wow! what a great picture of your hungry toddler:) i seriously think mine could pass as a twin of hers, identical that is...i thought i was looking at a picture of my daughter when that picture popped up:) sounds like yummy bread!

  6. So funny that you just posted this. I received my own bag of starter a few weeks ago. We'll have to try the healthier version of it!! :-) How do you add to it so you don't end up with three extra starters to give away?

  7. Angie, I keep mine in a jar with a lid and just feed it 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 milk, and 1/4 cup or so of sugar about once a week right before I use it to make bread. I'm not sure how much stays in the jar...I'd say less than 2 cups, but I just keep feeding it a little, using it, and leaving the rest in the jar. Does that make sense? It's not as confusing as it sounds ; )