If you’re making Amish Friendship Bread for the first time, you might be wondering exactly when you can use your starter. Do you really have to wait 10 days?
Or your question might look like any of the following:
- “How soon before I can use my Amish Friendship Bread starter?”
- “What happens if I bake with one cup after adding ingredients on Day 6?”
- “I got my starter from a friend who said I could bake with it anytime. Is this true?”
- “Once I go through the 10-day cycle, can I take out a cup anytime?”
- “If I froze my starter, can I use it right away?”
How your starter works
Amish Friendship Bread starter is a type of sourdough starter, which means the yeasts in the starter feed off the sugars in the ingredients you add every 4-5 days. This fermentation staves off unhealthy bacteria and contamination (though your starter can spoil if not properly cared for), and gives rise and loft to recipes like this no-knead sourdough loaf or this sweet white sandwich bread.
What makes Amish Friendship Bread starter so special is that it keeps on giving–you could keep it on your counter indefinitely, removing a cup to bake with indefinitely. Like any sourdough starter, if you take good care of it, you’ll always have yeast on hand, and it’s easy to share with friends.
If you made your starter from scratch…
If you’re making your starter from scratch, you’ll want to go through one 10-day cycle to make sure your starter is off to a good start and has a chance to develop its signature sweet, tangy flavor. If you use it too soon, the flavor won’t be as developed. Plus you risk depleting your new starter of some of the yeasts that’s still trying to get a foothold in your starter.
You should see activity (bubbles) on the day you make your starter, and then again 4-24 hours after you feed it on Day 6. This tells you that your starter is on its way so that by Day 10, you’ll be good to go.
If you’re desperate for some cinnamon-sugar Amish Friendship NOW, try this no-starter recipe.
Recommendation: Wait until Day 10 before using your starter.
If you received your starter from a friend…
In theory, if you received an Amish Friendship Bread starter from a friend, it’s already gone through at least one 10-day cycle, which means it’s a mature starter.
However, if you want to make sure the starter is actually active, I recommend going through at least one feeding to make sure you see some bubbles before using it. You should also do a quick smell test to make sure nothing feels too off. There’s nothing worse than a disappointing outcome to a recipe because the starter wasn’t active.
If your friend tells you the starter is good and you can bake immediately, go for it. If he/she/they gave you one cup, then you will use it up and not have any left to keep for future use.
If you want to keep a starter going on your counter but also want to bake immediately, treat the day you receive your starter as Day 6. Feed the starter 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk. Mix well until there are no more lumps, and then remove one cup to bake with. Follow the instructions to keep your starter going daily.
If you see bubbles the following day after receiving your starter, you can bake with your starter. This tells you that your friend fed the starter on Day 1 (her Day 10), and the starter is happy and active. Follow the above instructions if you want to bake and keep a starter going.
If you don’t see any bubbles the following day and you’re not sure if your starter is active, wait until Day 6, do a feeding, and bake on Day 10.
In all cases, make sure you are giving your Amish Friendship Bread starter every chance to thrive! Keep it warm, stir daily (or mash the bag), feed it on time and at the proper ratios. You can read more about properly maintaining your starter here.
Recommendation: Wait one day to see if there are any bubbles or activity. If not, go through Day 6, do a feeding, and plan to bake on Day 7.
If you’ve gone through a 10-day cycle…
If you’ve gone through a 10-day cycle with your starter, whether you made it from scratch or received it from a friend, and saw bubbly activity the day of or after a feeding, guess what? Your starter is ready to be used whenever you want!
As long as you are feeding your Amish Friendship Bread starter at the proper ratios (1 cup of starter needs to be fed 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk; 2 cups of starter needs 2 cups flours, 2 cups sugar, and 2 cups milk. Too much? See this post on keeping a smaller starter or this post on freezing your starter), you can remove a cup whenever you are ready to bake. Just remember that some of the traditional sourdough recipes may require an active/recently fed starter that’s bubbly in order to give your bread a good rise, otherwise you can use a cup at any time.
If you want to bake a recipe that requires a rise, then be sure to use your starter when it’s most active, usually a day or two after a feeding. Other than that, you are ready to bake!
Recommendation: Bake anytime!
If you thawed frozen starter…
If you want to bake one recipe that doesn’t require an active rise (like the more traditional sourdough recipes mentioned above), you can remove one bag of starter from your freezer, let it thaw, and bake with it. You may or may not see bubbles, but it should smell yeasty. You can use your starter to make most of the cakes, sweet loaves, cookies, scones, pancakes and waffles, and other fun recipes in the Friendship Bread Kitchen Recipe Box.
The only caveat is that you should be confident that your frozen starter was active before you froze it. If you froze a hungry or inactive starter, that’s what you’ll have when you take it out of the freezer.
And the same rule applies as above about sourdough breads that require a rise. Most frozen starters need to go through one feeding in order to get back all its frothy happiness to make your bread making a success.
To learn more about freezing your starter, check out this post. Need to figure out how to revive a frozen starter? Then read this post.
If you’re not confident if your starter is in good shape, treat it like Day 6 and do a feeding of 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk and give it a day or two. If confident your starter’s in good shape, choose your recipe and get baking!
Recommendation: Bake anytime!
Still have a question about when you can use your starter? Feel free to post it below. ❤️
Anne Sullivan Salyer says
If I did add feed at day 6 and the. didn’t add more feed to the starter at day 10 but have continued to mash it every day, can I still use the starter? If so, for how long?
Sooo… day 10. I am going to bake and want to end the cycle as I’m going on an extended vacation. Is it one cup or starter per loaf or one cup of starter for 2 loaves?? Thank you!
Mary Bravos says
I received the starters from a friend on March 9th. I added the flour and milk on day six but have yet to make it! I have mushed the bag every day and it looks the same as it did on day 10. Is it any good?
Hi Mary! As long as it looks and smells healthy, it should be fine! Check out this post to make sure your starter is still healthy: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/tutorial-good-vs-not-so-good-amish-friendship-bread-starter/
My starters were doing great until I fed them this morning and stirred with a silicone whisk. It’s been almost 8 hours and NO bubbles or any sign of life. Did I just kill them?
Hi Season! As long as it smells and looks okay, it should be fine! There are periods of time where your starter can be quieter. This post should help to make sure your starter is healthy: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/tutorial-good-vs-not-so-good-amish-friendship-bread-starter/
Brenda Orkins says
Can you use a cup of your starter in the recipes on day 10 without adding the cup of flour, sugar and milk to the mix before you bake on that day and just go right to the recipe then add the flour, sugar, and milk to the remainder of batter?
Hi Brenda! Yes, you can use your starter without adding the flour, sugar, and milk. However, we wouldn’t recommend adding it into the recipe afterwards, because it will change the amount of starter you put in. If you are looking to use up your starter, you could just use it in your recipe without feeding it (if its a cup). However, if you are planning to keep your starter going, we would recommend feeding it first. Does that make sense?
Tera Burton says
I have a question. I got a starter. I lived it for 10 days and followed directions. On day 10, I what I need, divided into 4 bags and baked…after I added all the ingredients.
My question is, if I do nor want to always make 4 bags, to share, would I just take my starter, add stuff on day 5 then add baking ingredients on day 10 and bake? Oe..do I have to add all the ingredients to share..then separate, then add baking ingredients?
Hi Tera! You do need to feed your starter at least weekly, but here’s a great post of a couple options if you don’t want to have as much starter: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/keeping-a-smaller-amish-friendship-bread-starter/ Another option, as well, is to refrigerate your starter: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/faq-store-my-starter-in-the-fridge/
Let us know if you have any other questions!
Terri Gardner says
Can you use almond milk as a substitute given my grandson is allergic to milk?
Hi Terri! Yes, you can definitely use almond milk!
Crystal Lewis says
None of the Amish starter websites tell you how to bake the bread. At what oven temp and for how long? Thank you
Hi Crystal! Here’s the recipe for the original Amish Friendship Bread: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/recipe-amish-friendship-bread/
Let us know if you have any more questions!
I started to make the bread and now I can’t finish the baking because it is too late in the day. How do I store the starter so that I can use the next day and finish my baking?
Hi Linda! You can just leave your starter out on the counter till tomorrow, when you bake.
Can I use some of my starter in random recipes? Like my favorite cookie or cake recipes?
Hi Deb! We haven’t found that there is a perfect substitution for adding Amish Friendship Bread starter into any recipe. Most of our recipes come from a lot of trial and error (LOL), so you’ll have to experiment when you want to try to add it to one of your own. However, the recipes on the site may help when you’re comparing the amounts/ingredients with your own recipes: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/amish-friendship…/
Hi. I am on day 10 and would like to only have ONE started left after feeding and baking. Can I feed and scoop out 1 Cup to keep and bake with the rest after following step 5 or will the ratios be off? Thanks!
Hi Kipsy! It depends on how much starter you have left over. I do know that some of the scone recipes (https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/category/recipes/scones/) call for 2 cups of starter, as well as the pancake and waffle recipes (https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/pancakes/, https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/waffles/). It may be helpful to use these recipes to use up more of your starter!
Kipsy Gould says
Thank you so much!
I misread directions, so on day 6 I added 1 1/2 cups each of milk, sugar & flour insteaad of just 1 cup each. will that be a problem?
It shouldn’t be a problem! Thankfully, starters are pretty hardy. It may get a little sluggish (less bubbly) if it’s overfed, but just wait till your next feeding and feed it an 1:1 ratio with the amount of starter you have.
Can I split and bake on day 9 instead of 10 then treat it as day 1 for the starters that come from that split?
Yes, that should be fine, Amber!
Annette Combs says
Hello! I fed my starter today (day 6). Now I found out that I will be going out of town and won’t be back in time to bake my bread. Can I still freeze the starter after today? Not time to bake early. Thanks!
Hi Annette! Yes, you can definitely freeze it now. The more active it is, the better it will do when you defrost it! I would advise doing method 2 on this post when you revive it: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/tutorial-reviving-frozen-amish-friendship-bread-starter/
Stephanie Holzman says
If I can’t feed on day 10, can’t divide, and can’t bake on day 10 what do I do ? Can I refrigerate it one day ?
Hi Stephanie! You can just leave it out one more day and treat day 11 like day 10. Your starter should be fine! Happy baking!
Hannah Creamer says
I forgot to feed my starter on day 6 and feed it on day 7, is my batch ruined?
Hi Hannah! It is most likely fine! This tutorial may help with figuring out if it’s still good: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/tutorial-good-vs-not-so-good-amish-friendship-bread-starter/
Diane C. says
Hi there! I received a AFB starter and went through the entire 10 days, baked (2) loaves and ended up with 4 starters. I want to bake more loaves with out creating more starters. I have seen that you just skip Day 10 and follow the next step, but I’m confused because my recipe does not give me a measurement for the amount of starter to use. I would guess after the day 5 feeding (1c of each milk, sugar and flour), I would have more starter than needed to make (2) loaves? Can some one explain it to me or let me know how much of the starter I am supposed to use?
Hi Diane! What recipe are you looking at? Most of the recipes on the site only call for 1 cup of starter, but there are occasional exceptions to this. And yes, you can just keep baking with your starter after day 10 to use it up! In the “Caring For Your Starter” section, you can read a little more about different options of “getting rid” of your starter: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/faqs/
Terri Norris says
I gave a starter to my daughter. She fed it on day 6, but has been able to do any baking. It has passed one week after day ten…can she still use the AFB?
Hi Terri! This might help her figure out if her starter is still good: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/tutorial-good-vs-not-so-good-amish-friendship-bread-starter/
My friend brought over a bag on day 10. We were going to divide and bake it that day but we forgot. I added one cup sugar 1 cup milk and 1 cup flour to the bag, but did not divide. It has been four days now. What should I do? Divide now? Wait until day six and feed it as if it was five things of starter? Or get rid of it? Or something else? Thanks
Hi Jaci! You may want to check and make sure it’s still healthy and active. Here’s a good post on that: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/tutorial-good-vs-not-so-good-amish-friendship-bread-starter/ If it’s still good, you should be able to separate and bake with it!
Hello! We received a starter and would like to bake with the entirety of it today! Just a one-time shot! 🙂 Can you please give me a recipe based on only having the original 1 cup starter given to us? I’m afraid the ratios of my current recipe are assuming I’m adding more flour, sugar and milk after day #6. Thank you!
Darien Gee says
Hi Jessica — I would recommend making the original cinnamon-sugar AFB recipe with your starter: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/amish-friendship-bread/. Or any of the cookie recipes if you want to try something totally different. Have fun!
Once I get to day 10 can I go straight to baking my starter? I don’t need to create any more starters I have a couple on the freezer already
Darien Gee says
Your starter is expecting to be fed on Day 10, so you’ll need to feed it first and then divide it. Bake with some or all of it, or freeze the excess. If you already have some in your freezer, you can bake with that the next time and skip making a new starter (frozen starters should have been put into the freezer immediately after being fed, so the starter is in good shape when you take it out).
If you have an established starter, you can bake anytime with it, but on Day 6 or Day 10, your starter is pretty hungry and thin so it’ll depend on on the recipe you’re making (i.e. you won’t want to make a recipe that relies on the starter for a good rise because your starter doesn’t have any oomph left for that unless you feed it).
Ann cunningham says
Does the container have to be glass or can you use a gallon freezer bag or can it be plastic?
Darien Gee says
It’s up to you, Ann! Here are your options: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/faq-what-kind-of-container-should-i-use-to-store-my-starter/
MARGIE MAYER says
After I feed on day 6 and on day 7 take out a cup to bake with does mean the cup left returns to a Day 1 status and I then feed it again at day 6?
Darien Gee says
Unless you received your starter from a friend, I recommend that people making starters from scratch go through the whole 10 days before baking, so their starter has a chance to develop. If you use it on Day 6, you’re depleting some of the yeasts that are trying to gather strength in your starter. If you’re dying to bake, though, and end up removing a cup to bake with on Day 7, you can either continue on to Day 10 and feed according to the amount of starter you have left (see this post: https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/tutorial-maintaining-a-healthy-amish-friendship-bread-starter/) or start over, treating it as Day 1. There’s a little wiggle room with the feeding schedule +/- a day. You ideally want to get two feedings in before you use it, but I’m all for doing whatever works, too!