A favorite of my husband's family, the recipe and "starter dough" for this "Amish Friendship Bread" were recently passed along to me by a friend at church. Since I have to type up the recipe for my sisters-in-law (who kindly took some "starter" from me), I decided to post it here...
For those unfamiliar with this type of sweet "sourdough" bread – the process usually begins when you inherit a bag of "starter" from a friend. (Perhaps the origin of the name?) I don't know how to make my own starter (I'm planning to follow the example of my mother-in-law and freeze a bag of starter for next Christmas), but I suppose you could try mixing 1 cup each of flour, sugar, and milk in a gallon-size reclosable bag and leave it out a few days longer than the recipe calls for below...
It all starts in a gallon-size reclosable bag...
Directions/Recipe for Amish Friendship Bread
[Do not use any type of metal spoon or bowl for mixing. Do not refrigerate the starter – unless you want to slow down the process like I did two weeks ago while away from home for a week.]
When the starter mix starts to ferment, air pressure will begin to build in the bag. Just let it out periodically and reseal the bag. The batter will rise, bubble, and ferment.
Day 1: This is the day you receive your batter. Make sure the date is written on the bag.
Day 2: Mush the bag. (I love that expression – mush!)
Day 3: Mush the bag.
Day 4: Mush the bag.
Day 5: Mush the bag.
Day 6: Add to the bag: 1 cup each of flour, sugar, and milk, and mush the bag! The batter will be slightly lumpy.
Day 7: Mush the bag.
Day 8: Mush the bag.
Day 9: Mush the bag.
Day 10: Pour the contents of the bag into a non-metal mixing bowl. Add 1½ cups each of flour, sugar, and milk. (I add only ½ cup of sugar – it's better for you and your budget!) Tip: I find that if you add the dry ingredients and mix well before adding the milk, the dough is far less likely to be lumpy.
Label 4 gallon-size reclosable bags with the date, and measure 1 cup of the mix into each bag. Those bags are now on Day 1. Give a bag to three friends along with a copy of the recipe. (Keep a bag of starter for yourself – you can also freeze it for later use.)
Add the following ingredients to the remaining batter:
2 or 3 eggs
1 cup oil (or ½ cup oil and ½ cup applesauce)
½ cup milk
1 cup sugar (I use only ½ cup sugar.)
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. vanilla (I use 1 tsp. vanilla.)
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 cups flour
1 large box instant (vanilla) pudding (I found that the small box works fine, too.)
Options: Add 1 cup (either or all) of chopped nuts, raisins, (mini) chocolate chips, etc.
Generously grease two 1.5 quart-size loaf pans (or 6 mini-size pans). Mix an additional ½ cup sugar and 1½ tsp. cinnamon, and dust the greased pans with half of the mixture. Pour batter evenly into pans and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees F. Let set 10 minutes to cool and then loosen sides and turn onto plate or cooling rack. Once cooled, store in the refrigerator. You can also freeze them for later use.
If you run out of "friends" who want a bag of "starter" – don't throw it out! Simply make up the above recipe 5 times – i.e. make one huge batch. (Yes, I measured what was left after removing the 4 cups of starter and found that it was almost exactly 1 cup! And I "quintupled" (is that a word?!) the recipe just last weekend, and it worked fine!