Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Amish Friendship Bread

Amish Friendship Bread

I'm not much of a believer in resolutions; that's probably because I've broken almost every one I've ever made. I do believe, however, in making fresh starts no matter what time of the year it is. There is always room for improvement, and in my opinion putting the effort off until the first of the year is simply a waste of time. But since I never learn from my mistakes I'm going to do the obvious now and, uh, make a resolution, but I think I'll call it a goal instead. I like goals. They're much easier to meet than silly ol' resolutions.

Amish Friendship Bread

I resolve to spend more time with friends - cook with them, cook for them and eat with them, too. I want to share recipes and meals and coffee. I want to catch up more often and invite them into my home. I want to share laughs and stories and maybe even a few secrets over handmade pastas, more-extravagant desserts and even simple grilled meals.

I think this is definitely a resolution I can keep.

Amish Friendship Bread

The last few months I've made a lot of this bread. It's Amish Friendship Bread, and I'm sure it's made the rounds where you live and work and play, too. It's a bread you just can't help but share - unless you want to have loaf after loaf after loaf of it in your kitchen. You see, the starter just grows, and it's meant to be shared with friends and family. And trust me, I gave starter to just about everybody I work with and to my mom and sisters. I have to admit that at first I wanted to don my frilly apron and pearls and call myself a 1950s housewife; I mean who else makes bread from starter?

But then I tasted it. And I was a convert. I made the bread plain, which was fabulous. I made it with chocolate pudding and walnuts. I made it with butterscotch pudding and dried apples. I made it plain but with pecans. I made it with chocolate chips. I made it with banana pudding and pecans. I made loaves. I made big muffins and mini muffins. I froze it all. Um, yeah, I kinda made a lot of it. And you can, too, or you can share it with your neighbors and friends and family. It's the perfect answer to a New Year's resolution that's delightful to keep.

Amish Friendship Bread

Amish Friendship Bread
From my neighbor, who got it from a friend, who got it from a friend...
* Don't worry. You can make the starter if you don't have someone to give you a bag.
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* Do not use any type of metal spoon or bowl for mixing.
* Do not refrigerate the starter.
* If air gets in the starter bag, let it out.
* It is normal for starter to rise, bubble and ferment.

When you have the starter in hand:

Day 1: Do nothing.
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 of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of milk and then mush the bag.
Day 7: Mush the bag.
Day 8: Mush the bag.
Day 9: Mush the bag.
Day 10: Make your bread.

1. Pour entire contents of bag into non-metal bowl.
2. Add 1.5 cups of flour, 1.5 cups of sugar and 1.5 cups of milk. Stir.
3. Into four one-gallon plastic bags put 1 cup of mixture into each bag. (There will be batter remaining in the bowl.) You can keep a bag of starter for yourself or give all of them away. Be sure to write on the bag the day you created the starter. This is Day 1.
4. Preheat oven to 325*.
5. To batter remaining in bowl add:
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 small box instant vanilla pudding
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup oil (or 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup applesauce)
6. Grease two large loaf pans and dust pans with cinnamon and sugar.
7. Pour batter into the two pans and sprinkle top with cinnamon and sugar.
8. Bake 1 hour. Cool until bread looses from the pan, about 10 minutes. Serve warm or cooled.

* Note that if you keep starter for yourself you will be baking bread every 10 days. It freezes beautifully, however, and you can also make muffins. It took my muffins about 30 minutes to bake so start there and check every 5 additional minutes to see if they are done.