This post is Part 1 in a series.
A couple of weeks ago, Jean brought me a starter of Amish Friendship Bread (AFB) that she'd received from someone at work. If you've never heard of Amish Friendship Bread (sometimes called Herman Bread), it is a recipe for a sweet bread or cake that works a lot like a chain letter. Someone gives you a "starter", which you "feed" and mix over the next ten days. On the tenth day, you divide the starter into four portions (two starters to give away, one starter to keep for yourself and rest to use in a recipe that day.)
Most people enjoy getting a starter, but soon find that they've given the starter to everyone who will take it. No worries. The starter can be frozen and started back up at a later time. Just thaw the starter and consider it to be Day 1 in the recipe below.
Many people rave about the basic recipe, but I find it a little dull. I've decided to have a little fun experimenting and coming up with recipes other than the basic AFB. I'll be posting my results, recipes and opinions every ten days or so over the next couple of months or until I run out of ideas.
(As an aside, this recipe probably did not originate with the Amish, but who knows? A lot of people question the instant pudding in the recipe, stating that anything instant doesn't seem very Amish. Again, who knows? I have shopped in several Amish-owned grocery stores that sell all kinds of instant mixes, including pudding and gelatin. This leads me to believe that if they sell it, they probably also use it.)
Amish Friendship Bread - Starting the Starter
Use this recipe if you don't know anyone who has a starter to give you.
1 package (.25 ounce) active dry yeast (or 1 Tablespoon bulk dry yeast)
1/4 cup warm water (110° F or 45°C)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup all-purpose sugar
1 cup milk
In small non-metal bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand for 10 minutes. Pour into a 1-gallon Ziploc bag.* Meanwhile, combine sugar with flour and stir well. Add sugar-flour mixture and milk to the yeast mixture, seal, and combine well by squishing Ziploc with your hands.
Consider this as DAY 1 of the recipe below.
* If you do not use a Ziploc bag, use a large non-metal bowl covered with Saran wrap. Always use a non-metal utensil to stir the starter.
Amish Friendship Bread - Feeding the Starter
Day 1: This is the day you receive the starter from a friend or begin the starter as above. Do nothing but leave it set out on your kitchen counter. It is normal for the batter to bubble and smell fermented. Let air out of the bag as necessary, but do not refrigerate. Should the batter turn any color but the creamy color it is when you receive it, throw it out and start over. (This very rarely happens.)
Days 2 thru 4: Squish the Ziploc bag to mix ingredients, letting air out of bag if necessary.
Day 5: Feed the starter by adding 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour and 1 cup milk to the bag. Squish the Ziploc bag to mix ingredients, letting air out of bag if necessary.
Days 6 thru 9: Squish the Ziploc bag to mix ingredients, letting air out of bag if necessary.
Day 10: Feed the starter by adding 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour and 1 cup milk to the bag. Squish the Ziploc bag to mix ingredients, letting air out of bag if necessary. Remove 3 cups of starter and place in 3 new gallon-sized Ziploc bags. Give two of these away along with these starter instructions, and keep one for yourself. With the remaining batter (a little more than 1 cup), bake Amish Friendship Bread as follows.
Amish Friendship Bread - Basic Recipe
1 cup (a little more is fine) of Amish Friendship Bread Starter
1 cup oil (this is entirely optional; bakes fine with no oil at all)
2/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 box of vanilla instant pudding (or any flavor as long as it is instant, not cooked)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Combine the sugar and cinnamon for the topping.
Grease (or spray with non-stick spray) two large loaf pans or a large Bundt pan or any combination of smaller pans such as two 8x8 snack cake pans or 4 small 3" x 6" loaf pans) Dust the greased pans with half of the topping mix.
In a large non-metal bowl, combine starter, eggs, oil, milk and vanilla using non-metal spoon. In another bowl, combine all dry ingredients, the add gradually to wet mixture until well combined.
Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan(s) and sprinkle the remaining topping mixture.
Bake for 1 hour* or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool until the bread loosens from the pan, approximately 10 minutes, then place on a serving dish. Serve warm or cold. Keep uneaten bread in refrigerator in a plastic bag.
* I baked both loaves and muffins. The loaves were done in 45 minutes and the muffins were done in about 34 minutes. I think an hour would be too long a cooking time.
As I said above, I found this recipe to be a little on the dull side, although my family seemed to really enjoy it. I think the amount of topping is excessive to the point it forms a crust and have decided to use much less, or none at all, when I bake this again. The original recipe called for 3 eggs, but I only had 2 and it worked fine, so I changed the recipe. I also omitted the oil and didn't miss it at all.
Overall, I think the bread is good, but too sweet for my taste. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give it a 3.
Next time, a chocolate version that I think will turn out much better.