Amish Friendship Bread

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Over the last 40 days (or so) I’ve been caught up in a baking frenzy that has swept my workplace: Amish Friendship Bread.  It all started when a colleague brought a freshly baked loaf of sweet bread and told us all to help ourselves.  I am already a nut for Amish baked goods after years of going to an Amish farm market in Indiana, (every year I head to Indy to visit my dad in the summer), so I dug right in!  I can’t even begin to say how excited I was to nosh on Amish bread well before my usual August binge.  It was so good, I asked if she would be willing to share the recipe so I could make it for myself.  Instead of writing it out for me, she handed over a large ziplock bag filled with pale goo and piece of paper with directions on what to do with my “starter.”

For the next six days, that goo sat on my counter and bubbled.  In between mushing the goo each day, I have to admit I was pretty fascinated with watching the yeast ferment.  On the sixth day, I got to add some ingredients and mush the bag some more until Day 10 or baking day arrived.

Baking day is where the real message of Amish Friendship bread comes through loud and clear. During the process, four cups of batter are pulled out and bagged for new starters.  These starters are then distributed to friends, family, neighbors, etc., while one is kept for yourself.  This creates an immediate connection with everyone in the circle as the next bake day arrives.  As the starter chain grows, the community grows and so does the sense of doing something meaningful.  Over the course of four batches, I realized I wasn’t baking alone and that created an instant kinship with every single person who had received a starter, including the people before and after my link in the chain. There is something magical and very warm about doing the same thing at the same time as those in my inner circle and beyond.  Every ten days that feeling comes back when I bake the next batch.

Better still, each batch yields two loaves of bread.  The sharing doesn’t end with starters!  It only continues as one loaf stays at home and the other is shared with others.  The office at work has been loaded with yummy loaves and muffins for weeks, while my grandparents always have a fresh loaf on their counter thanks to the baking efforts of me and my sister.

Batch #4 of Amish Friendship Bread

This experience has been very rewarding and tasty, so I thought I’d pass it along to my friends in the blogosphere.  The recipe for the starter is usually kept under wraps in order to keep the spirit of sharing alive, but I managed to find a starter recipe that matches up with the baking directions I received for my bread.  If you’re interested in starting an Amish Friendship Bread chain, go here for starter and baking recipes.

May we all be inspired to strengthen the bonds of friendship and keep strong the tradition of sharing.

– – –

c.b. 2012

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33 thoughts on “Amish Friendship Bread

  1. Leila

    Mmmmm. Bread…. Nothing better than warm, steaming bread with butter and jam of choice. OR just plain. We’ve been working recipies from Artisan Bread in 5mins a day. (http://amzn.com/0312362919). Crusty, yummy and divine. The starter can be kept in the refrigerator. Just beware, if you have a batch of yeast past its prime, it might turn in to a new life form if you leave it in the trash can. It is advised to dispose of it on trash day. 🙂

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  2. As a kid, we went camping and made Twists, just flour, water a pinch of salt and water to make it into a dough. when it was the right consistency, dry and soft enough to ‘twist’ round a stick. You held it over the fire until cooked. When it could be slid of the stick it was ready, and was eaten with butter melted down the middle. My mouth still waters when I think about it. It probably explains why I still love bread so much.

    Happy campfire memories.

    Jim

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  3. I’ve received a starter for Amish bread once before, but I must admit I never did anything with it. I am not a baker under the best of circumstances, and under pressure and duress – definitely not!

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    • The beauty of it is even if you mess it up, there’s always another starter. 🙂 My third batch was a disaster, but the very next day I got a new starter from the same person who gave me my first starter. 🙂

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  4. I am grateful to you for sharing your starter with me, especially since I goofed it up the first time!! It is so fun to make as you can change some of the ingredients around and come up with various versions. I tasted Mike’s and Rita’s and they were so different than mine . It really is yummy and a great cake like dish to take to a party or potluck, maybe I should get another starter. I gave all of my starters away and then my cat ate one, needless to say where that ended up!

    Keep spreading the love!

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    • I’m amazed at different each loaf of bread turns out! We were just marveling at that at work the other day. Mine turns out more like cake, while others are a lot dryer. I love how each person adds their own touch! 🙂

      I keep waiting for the day for my cat to do the same!

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  5. Sharladawn

    Yes! This is my favorite bread to make. I’ve only successfully managed to pull it off once, but boy did I savor every bite! Wishing someone would hand me off a starter so I could make it again. 😦

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  6. How very cool! I’ve heard of Amish Friendship bread before, and guessed its purpose/reason, but you make it very clear. Thanks for sharing! I suppose there would have to be a commitment on the part of the one receiving a starter “bag”, as it would have to be prepared/baked within a certain time. Life for me recently has been such that it would most likely mold or become hard before I could do what I was supposed to do with it. Hmmm . . . might be predictive of my relationships of late. Anyway, glad you’re enjoying the bread and the connections that you’ve made.

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    • There is definitely a responsibility, but its an exciting one to have. 🙂 I love how everyone chatters on the day of a bake or the day before. Then, after the bake we all compare how it turned out and swap ideas on new things to add. For example, this time around, instead of loaves I’m going to make muffins. 🙂

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  7. I thank you, C.B. for sending this friendship into my kitchen. Yesterday my kids headed to California to drop off some starter and then on to Washington to do their own. How wonderful is that?

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  8. Thanks for reminding me of a fun experience. My circle of friends and family did a similar thing using a Sourdough Bread recipe back in the eighties. It was a great way of sharing a wonderful recipe, but I started to gain weight after re-receiving the starter several times! 🙂

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  9. Love this! A student once gave me a loaf of Amish friendship bread. I have always wanted to try making some of my own. Now I can. Thanks for sharing with us!

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  10. For years, I was dying to receive/make/give Amish Friendship Bread. Much to my chagrin, when I finally did, the recipe called for instant vanilla pudding. Ewww. Surely – please say yes – there is a recipe that does not call for scary box-o-chemicals. Anyone?

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