Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Amish Friendship Bread

One of my favorite authors is Beverly Lewis. She writes fictional stories about Amish and Mennonite families. I've always been a little taken by the Amish way of life. I don't think I could do it. For one thing, I'm a musician. Need I say more? But I do find their ways of doing things intriguing. Their quilts are beautiful, and their lives are so simple. And I imagine that most if not all of their food is homemade. So, when I was given a starter for "Amish Friendship Bread" last year, I of course had to try it. It was absolutely delicious! I had kept a starter for myself, but each time you go to make the bread, you end up with three starters! You are supposed to give at least two of them away, but after a while, you don't have anyone to give it to anymore. But if you give it all away the first time, then you don't have any starter anymore and you have to wait (and pray) for someone to give you another starter. So, I went on a quest to find out how to make the starter myself, and then to find out if there was either a way to decrease the amount it made, or to freeze it. I succeeded. I've got a serious craving for some of this bread right now, and am pulling a starter out of the freezer now so I can make some. So, I thought I would share what I know.

First you have to make your starter:

1 (.25 oz) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
3 1/2 cups flour, divided
3 1/2 cups white sugar, divided
3 1/2 cups milk

In a small, non-metal bowl, dissolve the yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes. In a 2 quart non-metal container (I just use a ziploc container or gallon sized bag). Combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or flour will lump when milk is added. Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Cover loosely and let stand until bubbly. This is considered day 1 of a 10 day cycle. Leave loosely covered at room temperature.

On days 2 through 5; stir starter with a wooden spoon (or if you are storing it in a ziploc bag, then just give it a good smashing). Let the air out.

On day 6 stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.

On days 7 through 9 give it a stir. Let the air out.

On day 10, pour contents into a large non-metal bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 cup flour, 1 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 cup milk. Remove 2 cups to give to friends along with a recipe for Amish Friendship Bread (and this recipe for the starter if you wish. Store another 1 cup starter in a container and start the 10 day process over again. Once you have the 1 cup starter, you will consider that day 1.

I found out that you can also freeze this starter in 1 cup measures for later use. Frozen starter will take at least 3 hours at room temperature to thaw before using. Then you can use all three starters for yourself if you so desire, and you can freeze all of the starter if you don't want another Friendship Bread in the next week and a half and then use it when you want it. If you don't want to end up with tons of bags or containers of starters in your freezer, then when you take out a starter to turn into bread, do not add the flour, milk, or sugar on days 5 and 10. Just stir it each day. Then on day 10 make your bread. When you use your final starter, you can go ahead and add the flour, milk and sugar on days 5 and 10 and then have another three starters ready to freeze again. The starter can also be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Using sourdough starters have wonderful health benefits because of the natural occurring yeasts.

This is the recipe for the bread that I received, but there are others. This one is my favorite though because it's so moist:

1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter (above)
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 large (or 2 small) packages instant pudding mix (any flavor)
1 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit, etc as desired (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2 9x5 loaf pans.

In a large mixing bowl stir together all ingredients. Fold in the optional add ins that you want.

Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (about an hour). Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

In some of the breads I make, I like to coat the pans with a cinnamon sugar mix after greasing, and then sprinkle some more on top of the bread before baking. It gives the bread a yummy crust!

Now here are some of my favorite ways to make this yummy bread:

- 1 large box vanilla pudding mix, 1 cup craisins, 1 cup chopped pecans.

- 1 large box banana cream pudding mix, 1 mashed banana, 1 cup chopped pecans.

- 2 small boxes white chocolate pudding mix, 1 cup white chocolate chips, 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts.

- 1 large box pistachio pudding mix, 1 cup chopped pistachios.

- 1 large box vanilla pudding mix, 1 chopped apple, 1 cup dried fruit and nut mix, 2 tsp cinnamon.

- 1 large box chocolate pudding mix, 1 cup mini chocolate chips.

- large box vanilla pudding mix, 1 chopped apple, 1 cup raisins, 1 tsp cinnamon.

- 1 large box vanilla pudding mix, 1 bag cinnamon chips.

- 1 large box vanilla pudding mix, 1 chopped apple, 1 cup chopped pecans, 1 tsp cinnamon

- 1 large box vanilla pudding mix, 1 bag dried cherries.

- 1 large box vanilla pudding mix, 1 bag chopped dried peaches.

- 1 large box coconut pudding mix, 1/2 bag chopped dried pineapple, 1/2 bag chopped dried mango

No comments: