Technology changes almost instantly nowadays. Every year it seems like people have to go out and grab a brand new cell phone. Apps are able to track everything you see and do, and in some cities, drones are being used to drop off packages. Funny email chain letters are obsolete and ringing up your friend to say hello is practically unheard of. Times have changed, but thankfully you can bring a little bit of the past back by baking up an Amish Friendship Bread to share with your friends and neighbors. Oh, what's that? You don't remember the Amish Friendship Bread craze of the '90s? Let's step back in time together.
What is Amish Friendship Bread?
While the recipe has been around for decades, the Amish Friendship bread recipe gained popularity when the internet was starting and people would send each other chain letters. Bakers are encouraged to make a batch of sourdough starter (which is a room temperature mixture of all-purpose flour, sugar, milk, water, and yeast) then let it develop and grow for 10 days. The baker then uses some of the sourdough starter to make their Amish Bread, then divides the starter in Ziploc bags to give to friends so they can make their own bread. The starter is then passed on, and when the Amish Friendship bread starter gets low, the next baker is encouraged to add to the starter recipe and continue passing the bag of starter to friends.
According to Anne Byrn, who was interviewed by NPR in 2017, the recipe for the bread goes back almost a hundred years at least.
"The concept behind it is really old," she says, "and there are recipes for friendship cake, instead of friendship bread, that date back to the 1860s. Before the invention of baking powder in 1855, starters were made with wild yeast just gathered from the air, and they provided the leavening for cakes and breads." Women traveling in covered wagons would care for their starters during their journey, sharing with other travelers.
Then in the 1930s, bakers during the Great Depression shared their starters to be resourceful. Today, the starter and bread include modern conveniences like dried yeast and even instant pudding mix. Sure, this quick bread doesn't need a starter, but what fun would that be?
How To Make Amish Friendship Bread
So you received a starter bag from a friend. What now?
Start by preheating your oven to 325° F. In a large bowl add 1 cup of starter, eggs, oil, white sugar, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, all-purpose flour, vanilla instant pudding, nuts, and raisins and combine with a wooden spoon.
Grease two large loaf pans. In a small bowl combine 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture in the pans then divide the sweet bread between them. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar. Bake 1 hour or until bread loosens from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
How To Make Amish Friendship Bread Starter
Want to start your own bread chain? Mix up one packet of active dry yeast with 1/4 cup of warm water and let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar together in a bowl. Stir in 1 cup of milk and the dissolved yeast mixture and cover loosely, sitting at room temperature for one day.
On day two, transfer the starter into a Ziploc bag. Mash the bag for a few seconds every day for the next five days. On day 6 add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk and mash the bag. For the next four days mash the bag. On day ten you may divide the starter up to bake and give away.
Amish Friendship Bread
- 1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup oil
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups flour
- 1 box instant vanilla pudding
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup raisins
For the Topping
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat your oven to 325° F.
- In a large bowl add 1 cup of starter, eggs, oil, white sugar, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, all-purpose flour, vanilla instant pudding, nuts, and raisins and combine with a wooden spoon.
- Grease two large loaf pans. In a small bowl combine 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture in the pans then divide the sweet bread between them. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar.
- Bake 1 hour or until bread loosens from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.