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If you were to look up Amish Friendship Bread on Wikipedia, you’d find this: “Amish Friendship Bread is a type of bread or cake made from a sourdough starter that is often shared in a manner similar to a chain letter. The starter is a substitute for baking yeast and can be used to make many kinds of yeast-based breads, shared with friends, or frozen for future use.”
If you were to ask a real live person who has made Amish Friendship Bread, you might hear something like this: “It’s a gloopy, unappetizing substance in a bag that you mash for ten days before baking the most heavenly bread in the world.”
Amish Friendship Bread operates on a similar principle as a chain letter–pass it on–but with no threats or negative repercussions if you choose not to. At the end of the ten days, you divide it into four portions, bake with one, and give the other three away. This usually hums along nicely for the first cycle or two, but eventually people will start running in the other direction if you keep showing up on their doorstep with a fresh batch of starter. You have been warned.
The starter is a sourdough starter, a yeast-based starter with a lactobacillus culture. Because there’s so much sugar in most Amish Friendship Bread recipes, the result is sweet, rather than sour, but if you have a discriminating palate you may be able to pick up a tangy twist. Like most sourdough starters, Amish Friendship Bread can literally be passed around indefinitely; in fact, the longer its been around, the better.
If you’ve received a starter from someone, there’s a little bit of flour and love from their kitchen, as well as all the other kitchens before it. As long as you continue to “feed” your starter, it can stay at room temperature indefinitely. One of the wonderful things about the starter is that you can bake almost anything with it.
In our Recipe Box you’ll find recipes and variations of those recipes and variations of those variations. And if you still don’t know what Amish Friendship Bread is or know someone who can give you some starter, you can make your own.
At the end of the day, Amish Friendship Bread is all about friendships and community. It’s about connection. It’s about fun. It’s about nurturing other people. It’s about not taking anything too seriously, but to find the simple joy and pleasure in every moment. Amish Friendship Bread is, in short, a recipe for living.
Following are the recipe and instructions for Amish Friendship Bread as it was given to me. You can also go to our Recipe Box for an easily printable version of the recipe by clicking here.
NOTE: Do not refrigerate starter. It is normal for the batter to rise and ferment. If air gets in the bag, let it out.
Day 1: Do nothing.
Day 2: Mash the bag.
Day 3: Mash the bag.
Day 4: Mash the bag.
Day 5: Mash the bag.
Day 6: Add to the bag: 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk. Mash the bag.
Day 7: Mash the bag.
Day 8: Mash the bag.
Day 9: Mash the bag.
Day 10: Follow the directions below:
- Pour the entire bag into a nonmetal bowl.
- Add 1 1/2 cup flour, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cup milk.
- Measure out equal portions of 1 cup each into 4 1-gallon Ziploc bags. *Most people will end up with 4-7 portions depending on how active your starter has been, especially if you made your starter from scratch.*
- Keep one of the bags for yourself (or leave it in the mixing bowl if you plan to bake right away), and give the other bags to friends along with the recipe.
REMEMBER: If you keep a starter for yourself, you will be baking in 10 days. The bread is very good and makes a great gift. Only the Amish know how to make a starter, so if you give all the bags away, you will have to wait for someone to give you a starter back.
Should this recipe not be passed onto a friend on the first day, make sure to tell them which day it is when you present it to them.
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. To the remaining batter in a bowl add the following:
a. 3 eggs
b. 1 cup oil
c. 1/2 cup milk
d. 1 cup sugar
e. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
f. 2 teaspoons cinnamon
g. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
h. 1/2 teaspoon salt
i. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
j. 2 cups flour
k. 1-2 boxes instant pudding (any flavor)
i. Optional: 1 cup nuts and 1 cup raisins
3. Grease 2 large loaf pans
a. In a bowl mix an additional 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
b. Dust the greased pans with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
4. Pour the batter evenly into the pans and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture on the top.
5. Bake for one hour or until the bread loosens evenly from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.
Need a Starter?
If you ask around, chances are you’ll find somebody you know with an Amish Friendship Bread starter to share (exercise good judgment if accepting a starter from someone you do not know). If not, here is the recipe for making your own (you can also go to our Recipe Box for a printable version of the recipe by clicking here):
1 (0.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup milk
- In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes.
- In a 2 quart glass, plastic or ceramic container, combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or flour will lump when milk is added.
- Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and dissolved yeast mixture.
- Cover loosely and let stand at room temperature until bubbly. Consider this day 1 of the 10 day cycle. For the next 10 days handle starter according to the instructions for Amish Friendship Bread.
Note: When you make a starter from scratch, you can sometimes end up with a much greater yield than 4 cups depending on the temperature of your kitchen and eagerness of your starter, sometimes up to 7 or 8 cups! If this happens, reserve one cup for baking and divide the remaining batter into Ziploc baggies of 1 cup each to freeze or share with friends.
Here’s a great Day One starter tutorial by Michelle Lee aka Supermom. Thanks, Michelle!
And here we are on Day Six, in the VERY early days of the Friendship Bread Kitchen:
Now that you’ve started your starter or possibly even baked your first loaf of Amish Friendship Bread, your journey has just begun. We have lots of Amish Friendship Bread recipes and photos to inspire you, and if you find yourself stuck or needing an answer to a question, visit our FAQs. If your question’s not there, go to the Kitchen Table, our community forum where you can find Amish Friendship Bread FAQs, Kitchen Tips, and pretty much anything else under the sun. You can even submit an Amish Friendship Bread recipe if you have one you’d like to share. Have fun!