I went to a dinner party recently and was given a gift: a zipper top baggie with batter in it to start my own Amish Friendship Loaf. The idea is to mix up your starter and then give starters to two or three friends, so they can bake up their own delicious loaves. If you keep a starter for yourself, you will be baking every ten days. This is the kind of motivation I needed to kick start my Christmas baking! Luckily for me, since I am impatient, my friend gave me my starter on day 9. Yes, this starter takes ten days to be ready to use, but I hear the results are worth it. In about an hour, when my loaves come out of the oven, I will let you know for sure :).
The starter comes with instructions, which you are supposed to pass on with the starter. They are not terribly difficult and it feels kind of like you are in a special bread club while you are baking. At least I felt this way while mixing away my batter. I was also thinking of whom I will share my good fortune with.Will it be my neighbour? My friend that I will meet for coffee later on? It is also nice to think about which of your friends will bake bread next and think of you, just as I am now thinking of the woman who gave the starter to me.
Here are the instructions for the basic loaf. There are many variations as well. Comment if you would like them.
-DO NOT use metal spoons or bowls for mixing (the photo here is some other bread I made, mine is still in the oven)
-DO NOT refrigerate
-If air gets in bag, let it out
-It is normal for the batter to rise bubble and ferment
Day 1: Do nothing
Day 2-5: Mush the bag
Day 6: Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk and mush the bag
Days 7-9: Mush the bag
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Pour contents of bag into non-metal bowl
Add 1.5 cups flour, 1.5 cups sugar and 1.5 cups milk. Mix well.
Measure out three separate batters of 1 cup each and place into clean zip top bags. Pass on to 3 friends or 2 if you want to keep a starter for yourself. Give these directions and be sure to tell your friend which day the starter is on. ie: date the bag.
Add the following to the remaining starter.
1/2 c oil
1/2 c apple sauce
1/2 c sugar
2 cups flour
1 lg pkg instant vanilla pudding
1/tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp bkg pwdr
1/2 tsp bkg soda
1/2 tsp. salt
optional: 1 cup nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, choc chips, etc.
Grease two large loaf pans
Pour batter evenly into pans
Mix 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon, sprinkle evenly over loaves.
Bake 1 hour. Cool until breads loosen from pan. Turn onto serving dish.