A few weeks ago in church, we focused on a story from 1 Samuel that focused on the idea of friendship and what a “spiritual friendship” really means. The sermon pointed out characteristics that should be in a friend, like honesty, loyalty, someone to challenge you, and others. One of the key ideas I took away from the sermon though, was that your close and true friends are ones that will be there in thick and thin, happy and sad, rough and easy moments of life. They will grow with you, make mistakes with you or let you make mistakes on your own, and ultimately always be there for you. They are the ultimate gift that keeps on giving.
It was fitting to hear this sermon that week because it was also the week that my Community Group replicated and planted a new group. I bet by now you are wondering what all this has to do with food. Well this week’s recipe is one for bread that is often called “Amish Friendship Bread.” And rather than have a recipe that focuses on the ingredients and an immediate product; this recipe focuses more so on the process and care of the starter until you in turn replicate the starter to give to others to pass the process along. It’s a symbolic way of friendship as it is a process that never ends and keeps on giving.
This bread, which is really more like a cake, is a 10 day process that requires a little TLC during each day. While it sounds like this could get complicated fast, rest assured that it does not. Most days you are mushing the bag and then one day in the middle of the process, you add ingredients to help the starter grow.
The following is the basic recipe for the Amish Friendship Bread once you have received a starter. If you need to make a starter, see recipe at the bottom. This recipe was passed onto me when I received my first starter.
Amish Friendship Bread
Note: DO NOT use any type of metal spoon or bowl for mixing.
DO NOT refrigerate.
If air gets in the bag, let it out.
It is normal for the batter to rise, bubble and ferment.
Day 1: Do nothing. This is the day you receive the batter. Make sure the bag is dated.
Day 2: Mush the bag
Day 3 Mush the bag
Day 4 Mush the bag
Day 5: Mush the bag
Day 6: Add to the bag: 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk. Then mush the bag.
Day 7: Mush the bag
Day 8: Mush the bag
Day 9: Mush the bag
Day 10: Follow the directions below:
Pour the entire content of the bag into a non-metal bowl and add 1 ½ cup flour, 1 ½ cup sugar and 1 ½ cup milk. Stir until smooth. DO NOT use a metal spoon.
Measure out four separate batches of 1 cup each into four one-gallon ZIPLOCK bags. Keep a starter for yourself, and give the others to friends, along with the recipe.
NOTE: If you keep a starter for yourself, you will be baking every 10 days. The bread is very good and makes a great gift. If you give the entire “starter” away, you will have to wait until someone gives you a starter back.
1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2) To the remaining batter in the bowl add:
1 cup oil (or ½ cup oil and ½ cup applesauce)
½ cup milk
1 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1 large box Vanilla INSTANT pudding (or chocolate pudding), or 2 small boxes
3) Grease two large loaf pans and mix additional ½ cup sugar and ½ tsp cinnamon, for topping
4) Dust the greased pans with “half” of this mixture. Pour the batter evenly into the two pans and sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top.
5) Bake for 1 hour
6) Cool until bread loosens from the pan evenly (about 10 minutes)
7) Turn out onto a serving dish. Serve warm or cold. Once the loaves are cool, you can wrap one in saran wrap and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat it.
Options: You can add one cup nuts or raisins, blueberries, or cranberries. Should the recipe not be passed onto a friend on the first day, be certain to tell the recipient which day the bag is, when it is presented.
When I made my bread, I happened to have a banana that was on its way out the door. I mushed that up in the batter along with two small packages of banana pudding. I added some semi-sweet chocolate chips and made some really tasty banana bread.
This recipe is great because it really allows your creativity with the flavors to flow and can be used to highlight flavors in every season.
Starter for Amish Friendship Bread:
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F)
1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water for about 10 minutes. Stir well.
2. In a 2 quart glass or plastic container, combine 1 cup sifted flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or the flour will get lumpy when you add the milk.
3. Slowly stir in warm milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Loosely cover the mixture with a lid or plastic wrap. The mixture will get bubbly. Consider this Day 1 of the cycle, or the day you receive the starter.
For the next 10 days handle starter according to the instructions above for Amish Friendship Bread
I hope that you partake in the journey of this bread and enjoy the process!