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What's Cooking?: Amish Friendship Bread

It is the end of the summer season.   No more 90 degree plus temperatures, nor sweating through a heat wave, nor being drenched in the humidity.   Yet amidst the sauna like conditions, I was crazy enough to bake my way through the whole summer with this one recipe - Amish Friendship Bread.  Everyone loved it!  It spurred me on to fire that oven even through those hot days.    

After a decade hiatus, I was given another batch of Amish Friendship starter with a new recipe from a friend who made a trip to Amish country in Pennsylvania.   It is a 10 day process of nourishing this starter by adding flour, sugar and milk intermittently.  The end result of this “chain letter-like” recipe is four starters to share with friends (or one to keep for you to start the process again).  The remaining starter in the bowl combined with the rest of the ingredients in the recipe will yield 2 loaves.  This wonderful quick bread is filled with my favorite choice of dried cranberries, chocolate chips, and almonds.  Another combination is dried cherries, mini chocolate chips, and coconut.   Surprisingly, it has a delectable slightly chewy texture.  So moist with the instant pudding mix added…so good, so many variations!  Also, the starter helps to preserve the shelf life to this bread but it never last for more than a couple of days in my house.  It is hard to have just one slice.  A unique element to this recipe is the coating of cinnamon sugar mixture on the entire surface of the bread before it is baked which gives it a sweet crunchy layer.  This is one time we fight for outside slices which will satisfy any sweet tooth.

It has been four months since I started this baking marathon.   Baking every 10 days isn’t as difficult as it seems especially now when the cool weather of autumn approaches.  The Amish Friendship Bread has been a lot of fun and totally worth it as it has brought a food community together among those I have shared it with.   I’ve tried a chocolate variation and look forward to the lemon and coconut versions.   And how about adding a streusel topping next time…how wicked is that?  A few of the loaves will be saved in the freezer for the upcoming holidays.   I will probably hang up my endeavor to continue baking Amish Friendship Bread temporarily but before I do, does anyone want a starter?  Come see me.




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