Why do I need to use instant pudding in my Amish Friendship Bread?
One thing that throws people off when it comes to Amish Friendship Bread is the inclusion of instant pudding as one of the ingredients.
Here are questions I get about using instant pudding in Amish Friendship Bread recipes:
- “I received my Amish Friendship Bread recipe years ago and it didn’t have instant pudding listed in the ingredients. Do I really need it?”
- “Instant pudding doesn’t seem very Amish?”
- “I don’t use artificial ingredients. Can I leave out the pudding?”
- “What happens if I skip the instant pudding?”
- “They don’t sell instant pudding where I live. What should I do?”
The big question
I’m going to tackle the easy one first: is instant pudding even Amish? Um, no. It’s made by Jell-O, a division of Kraft Foods. So why is it included as an ingredient for the original Amish Friendship Bread recipe?
Amish Friendship Bread has been a culinary cultural phenomenon in the United States for several decades. Lots of people in the Friendship Bread Kitchen remember making it in the 1960’s and 1970’s. A Girl Scout troop claims to have started it around that time, too. Whatever the case, one thing is clear: the spirit of Amish Friendship Bread is sharing what we have with others, which echoes the Amish practices of compassion and community.
The Amish don’t use electricity, and the starter can be kept at room temperature so it’s easy to use a scoop whenever you’re ready to bake. While I’m not sure the Amish keep this starter on their counter, you can bet they have some kind of sourdough starter going on at all times.
Want to keep a starter on your counter? Check out this tutorial.
Somewhere along the way, as all “chain” or “do-this-and-pass-it-on” letters tend to do, the recipe got adapted and somehow a box (or two) of instant pudding got added in. The first Amish Friendship Bread recipe I received including instant pudding as one of the ingredients, so I’ve kept it in ever since. If you have a set of instructions that doesn’t include it, feel free to leave it out.
Why instant pudding?
Instant pudding boosts flavor and moisture in a recipe. The best way to see if it makes a difference to you is to prepare one batch of Amish Friendship Bread with the pudding, and one without. You could even do a third batch with TWO boxes of pudding, as some instructions are nice and vague, asking for “1-2 boxes of instant pudding.”
Everyone’s taste buds are different, so experiment and see what you prefer. In general I recommend following the recipe as presented the first time, and then tweak based on your results. One SMALL box per recipe is sufficient.
Some of the recipes play with seasonal flavors, like pumpkin, get an easy boost with flavored pudding. If a specific pudding flavor is recommended and you can’t find it, use vanilla and boost any other flavors accordingly.
I don’t do artificial ingredients or don’t have access to instant pudding
Sometimes people don’t have access to instant pudding or don’t have time to run to the store. In those cases, you can either omit the pudding or make your own from scratch.
Here are a few homemade variations if you prefer to keep your ingredients fresh:
It’s your call
I personally add instant pudding most of the time, though I have skipped it on occasion. Some people like their Amish Friendship Bread with it, some are fine without it. It is totally up to you!
And at the end of the day, Amish Friendship Bread is all about quick and easy, and the addition of instant pudding in the recipe helps make that happen.