My friend Pam gave me a bag of starter and instructions and a recipe (this one here from the Happy Zombie). It came in a zip lock bag with instructions to squish squash mush and mash over a period of 10 days, followed by instructions to make an Amish Friendship Bread.
Not following instructions is one of my top 5 most charming traits, so my mind went into overdrive when reading the instructions.
- I don’t think instant vanilla pudding is a traditional Amish staple.
- Why the instructions to not use any metal for mixing or for the bowl? Do the Amish not have metal things? Why are ziploc bags okay and not metal?
- Why does this need to go in a cycle of 10 days?
- Why not refrigerate?
- Will the bag leak?
- Can I use a container for the starter instead of the bag?
- Which 3 friends to give the starter to?
Because I had all these questions, and figuring that my friendship with Pam would be secure if I somehow made metallic bread or killed the batter, I decided to experiment.
I’ve always been a fan of Cook’s Illustrated and their scientific analysis of how to make the best…whatever it is. They’ll roast 60 turkeys to get to the best way for instance. Suffice it to say, their recipes are tested ad nauseum and they’ll gladly take you through the methodology of how they got to the best way. I’m not going to do that. I’ll just give you the summary of what I learned which is long enough. You’re welcome.
- The Friendship Bread stuff is a yeast starter. It’s a sweet starter because the proportions of 1C flour, 1C Sugar and 1C milk that is fed into the mixture every 10 days or so is sweet. (Sourdough starter by contrast is fed flour and water only). Probably if you don’t feed the dough for a while you’ll end up with a dough more sour that sweet eventually as the yeast eats up the sugars in the batter.
- I cannot see any reason why the mixture cannot touch metal. I used a metal spoon to mix the starter just to be that way and nothing untoward happened. And I used a metal mixing bowl and dough hook to knead one bread. And the breads were all baked in metal pans.
- I’m not going to store the starter in a metal container just in case the acidity in the yeast affects anything over the long haul.
- I’m storing my starter mixture in a Rubbermaid container. The ziploc bag thing was too squishy to leave on the counter. I’ve been shaking the container up a bit every day and giving it fresh air. Note that the rising bubbles and yeast action can cause the top to pop off a bit.
- The starter mixture can be refrigerated. It can even be frozen. Divide the starter after it’s had some time after it’s feeding to bubble and rise into 1C packages. Defrost it before using.
- The starter can be used within and outside of the 10 day cycle. I fed the starter it’s even proportions of flour, sugar and milk when I decided I’d used/experimented down the quantity down to about 1 cup worth of starter.
- The Friendship Bread starter is sort of like a chain letter. Some folks are happy to carry on with it. Others are not. Most people are happy to eat the finished product.
- Tasty bread can be made without the addition of boxed pudding mix.
- There is a whole lot of stuff on the web about Friendship Bread. Check it out if you have time to spare. There’s even a book.
- If you have no friends with Friendship Bread starter and you want to start your own, here’s a recipe.
- Friends are more likely to happily take Bread starter home if they’ve sampled the baked results.
Here are my recipes for bread made with Friendship Bread Starter
The Fast Friend Bread
This is an adaptation of other Friendship Bread recipes I found without pudding on the web. I monkeyed with the amount of leavening.
Lots of other things can be used in place of the raisins and walnuts as add ins. Keep in mind though if the add ins are moist (like diced apples) that baking time and texture of the bread will vary.
- 1 C Friendship Bread Starter
- 3 Large Eggs
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 1 C Sugar
- 2/3 C Vegetable Oil
- 2 C All Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1-1/2 tsp Cinnamon
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Mix with a spatula or spoon. Add the remaining dry ingredients all at once into the bowl and mix just until the batter is smoothing out. Do not over mix.
- 1 C Walnuts
- 1 C Raisins
Pour the batter into a greased or sprayed regular 9×5″ loaf pan and one smaller tea loaf pan, or a 4X12″ loaf pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 40minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. If you made one small loaf and one bigger one, start checking the smaller one for doneness at about 25 minutes.
Take bread(s) out of the pan to cool on a rack after 5 minutes of cooling.
The Friendship Loaf
What with all the bubbling and rising and all that going on with the squashy mushy batter, I had to try to make a yeast bread with the starter. For some reason, most all of the recipes on the web for Friendship Bread are quick breads (breads that rise with the addition of baking soda or powder) but the starter is yeast multiplying and rising so it seemed to me that it should work.
I came up with an extremely basic recipe that makes a nice sweet tasting risen bread with a nice crumb and crust. Certainly much more could be done with this recipe in terms of dressing it up with the addition of egg, flavorings and other additions.
- 1 C Friendship Bread Starter
- 3 Tablespoons softened room temperature butter
- 2 C All Purpose Flour
- 1/4 C Water
Combine the ingredients to make a dough. Knead until smooth. Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Let rise overnight or until doubled. Punch down the dough and shape into a loaf shape. Place the dough in a 9×5 loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when knocked on the bottom.
Cool on a rack. Or slice into it while warm and enjoy with a slather of butter.
All the varieties of Friendship bread that I tried from this excursion were mighty tasty!
Hi, have a friend that just got the Amish Bread Starter. She doesn’t have many friends that BAKE. Wanted to know if she had to feed the starter so it would be 4 to give away? I told her to give it a quarter cup of flour, one & half tsp. of sugar & a quarter of the milk. Blend & put in the fridge. Take it out a day or so before she was ready to bake again. Let bubble use what she needed. Feed it again & put back in the fridge. Will this work correctly? Also told her to check it every week. Give it a stir. Maybe refresh it again. She does not bake every week. Thank You
I don’t think your friend needs to bake every week to use the starter, but it needs food and air to keep going. The bag and container should be ‘burped’ or new air introduced somehow now and then as well as feeding. She could keep it going with the proportions that you suggest and not split off starter to share.
The other thing that I have heard (and not done personally) is freeze the starter and defrost what is needed prior to baking. Good luck!
I’m using a glass bowl with a piece of saran wrap over and it’s working for me. Thanks for the recipe for the regular bread. I don’t like the pudding.
I agree! I don’t like adding pudding either. Glad to know the glass bowl thing works.
Made your “yeast” bread and it worked well adding a 1/2 cup whole wheat. I’m going to try graham flour next time. It’s a tad bit sweeter than most bread but tastes good.
So far I’ve made the Friendship Bread, muffins, pancakes and the sandwich bread. I even put some starter in the fridge, got it out and used it as before. Everything is working great!