Friday, May 22, 2009

Amish Friendship Bread

One day my friend and colleague, Kate, gave me a Ziploc bag with a creamy looking mixture and a xeroxed copy of Amish Friendship Bread Cinnamon Loaf.

A quick glance and all I saw was "Mush the bag" and "NO METAL." Kate told me she had gotten her bag of yeast starter from another friend who got it from another friend and so on and so forth. Who knows how long this starter has been circulating, through whose hands it has passed, and how many mouths it has fed? It's kind of cool to think we are all connected.

Once you get your bag, you follow the instructions and ten days later, you make your own bread and four more bags of starter to keep or give to your friends. You can freeze the bags of starter to save for a later date. Just let the starter defrost and watch for the bubbles to start again before you proceed with the recipe.

It's important to leave the bag out at room temperature so that the yeast can do its work. If for some reason, something goes awry or you want to make the bread and have no friends who have given you a bag, I include the recipe for starting an original starter batch.

My daughter Lizzy loved this light, moist and sweet bread. Every time I went into the kitchen I noticed the loaf got magically smaller, until *poof*, it was gone.

Amish Friendship Bread Cinnamon Loaf Recipe (from the xeroxed piece of paper I received with the starter)

Do not use any type of metal spoon or bowl for mixing.
Do not refrigerate.
Batter will rise, bubble, and ferment ... burp as needed.

Day 1 - receive the starter and do nothing
Day 2 - Mush the bag.
Day 3 - Mush the bag.
Day 4 - Mush the bag.
Day 5 - Mush the bag.
Day 6 - Add to the bag 1 cup each flour, sugar and milk. Mush the bag.
Day 7 - Mush the bag.
Day 8 - Mush the bag.
Day 9 - Mush the bag.
Day 10 - Follow these instructions:

1. Pour the entire contents of the bag into a non-metal bowl.
2. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups milk. Stir.
3. Measure one cup batter into four 1-gallon Ziploc bags and give to friends along with a copy of the recipe.
4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
5. Add to the remaining batter:

3 eggs
1 cup oil
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
1 large box instant vanilla pudding (or any flavor)
1/2 tsp. salt

6. Grease 2 large loaf pans
7. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Dust the greased pans with 1/2 of this mixture.
8. Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture over the top.
9. Bake 1 hour. Cool the bread until it loosens evenly from the pan (about 10 minutes). Serve warm or cold. YUMMY!

If you keep a starter for yourself, you will be baking every 10 days. The bread is very good and makes a great gift. Only the Amish know how to creat the starter, so if you give them all away, you will have to wait until someone gives you one back. ENJOY!!


Here is an alternate bread recipe if you don't have instant pudding in the house, which I got from

Remaining batter in the bowl (step #5 above)
2/3 cup oil
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Using a fork beat by hand until well blended. You can add 1 cup raisins and 1 cup nuts (optional).
Grease two loaf pans with butter, sprinkle with sugar instead of flour.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 45 minutes to 1 hour (individual oven temperatures vary). Cool 10 minutes, remove from pans. Makes two loaves of Amish Friendship Bread.

Amish Friendship Bread Starter
This is the Amish Friendship Bread Starter Recipe that you’ll need to make the Amish Friendship Bread (above). It is very important to use plastic or wooden utensils and plastic or glass containers when making this. Do not use metal at all!


1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110°F)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup warm milk (110°F)


1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water for about 10 minutes. Stir well.
2. In a 2 quart glass or plastic container, combine 1 cup sifted flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or the flour will get lumpy when you add the milk.
3. Slowly stir in warm milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Loosely cover the mixture with a lid or plastic wrap. The mixture will get bubbly. Consider this Day 1 of the cycle, or the day you receive the starter.

For the next 10 days handle starter according to the instructions above for Amish Friendship Bread.


sunnybw said...

By mistake, on the 8th day, I added an additional 1/2 cup of flour, sugar, and milk. I misread the instructions and thought I'd left that out on the 6th day. Do you think I ruined it? Sunny

Ninette said...

Hey Sunny,

So you said you added the flour, sugar, and milk on the 6th day AND the 8th day? If you forgot on the 6th and added the 8th, I don't think it's a big deal, but you may want to extend the fermentation period another day or two. If you added on the 6th and the 8th day, I think you'll just have more batter to distribute. The recipe is pretty forgiving, so I would say you should have great results all the same. Let us know how it goes!

Deniz Bevan said...

Great post!
The same thing happened to me last week - a friend and colleague gave me the typewritten instructions and a bag - love the "mush the bag" bit! I definitely didn't want to use the instant pudding, so found the momswhothink recipe - but I was missing an egg, as well as the vanilla (I added a drop of honey). My bread came out looking exactly like your photos! Most people said it tasted good, one person said it was a little yeasty - I think that's cos I could have cooked it longer, but was making it late at night and wanted to get to bed, so I yanked it out of the (325 degree) oven after exactly 50 minutes...
We'll see what happens with the next batch!
By the way, do you know why no metal? Does it react with the yeast or something?

The Raven said...

I make it without the pudding too--and while I use white flour to feed the starter, I use whole wheat for the extra in the recipe. And I use brown sugar or sucanat for the sugar. My family are a little on the hippie side so perhaps we aren't representative, but I like it substantially better with the WW. It improves the texture (less gummy) and the taste (nuttier).

Anonymous said...

The "no metal" thing is because the metal could throw off the ph of the fermenting dough. Weird, I know.

Anonymous said...

My bread looked great when it came out of the oven and then it collapsed. It still tastes great but I don't understand why that happened. Any ideas???
Also, how can I make a batch without having to give it to friends? Some of my friends aren't interested so I just want to make it without the leftovers.

tarmar said...

I commonly take the ones I am supposed to give to friends and put them in the freezer. The next time I want to bake, I just take it out, thaw it on the counter for a couple hours and then bake with it. When I use the second to the last one, I pull the last one out and go through the 10 day cycle. I have had them frozen for more than a year and they still tasted great!

Ninette said...

Greast idea, Tamar. Anonymous, it sounds like your bread wasn't fully cooked and maybe that's why it collapsed on itself. Was it really moist inside? Or your oven temp is off. Do you have an oven thermometer that you can put in there and check if it's running right?

Shaunte said...

Is there a way i can make the receipe without having to do the measure one cup of batter into ziploc bags.. cause my friends are not interest so i have no one to pass the batter on to.

Anonymous said...

Instead of adding 1 1/2 cups sugar sugar, flour and milk add just 1/2 cup each, you will have added 1 1/2 cups total instead of 4 1/2, take your 1 cup starter and the recipe should work out the same.

Deirdre said...

I just received a starter from my Aunt over the weekend. The directions said not to refrigerate but she had been refrigerating it. I called her once I got home to ask again if I should be keeping it cold and she said yes. She didn't have trouble when she baked hers after keeping it cold so I wonder if I should keep it cold or if it's okay to leave it out on the counter. (room temperature)

Tomorrow will be my first day to add to my batter.

Laura said...

Anonymous gave instructions if you don't have anyone to give starters to...I don't want to bake again. Can I skip adding anything at all and just bake what I have (adding the baking ingredients of course)?

Ninette said...

Hi Laura,

One day 10, you can bake 5 loaves of bread instead of baking 1 loaf and then dividing the rest of the batter into 4 Ziploc bags. Then you're done! Or you can bake 4 loaves of bread and freeze the remaining starter in case you wanted to make a batch of Amish bread later.

Asraf said...

Hi, thanks for this good information. =) non woven bag

Anonymous said...

Help! I remembered to use a plastic bowl but then used a metal spoon by mistake!! Oops!! Can I still bake the bread?? What will happen??

Ninette said...

Did you use a stainless steel spoon? It will probably be fine. I think the wooden spoon is because if you use inferior metals (e.g., aluminum), they can leave a metallic taste and/or react with the yeast. Stainless steel is non-reactive and thus should be okay. Don't worry! Just use a wooden spoon going forward and let us know what happens.

Friendship Bread Kitchen said...

Love your Friendship Bread post and pictures. With your permission, we would love to add them to the Friendship Bread Kitchen. Stop over and let us know. You would get credit and links back to your blog.

Darien Gee, author of FRIENDSHIP BREAD

Anonymous said...

I am on my third starter. I make my bread, give 3 starters away, save one for me to start over again. I did French vanilla, and banana cream. This last one I did chocolate, left in the cinamon and instead of vanilla, used Amaretto (liquor) and WOW...gave it a zing. I also dust the sides as well as the bottom with cinanamon sugar. I have people begging me for starters. I bake again in a week and plan to do the Cinnamon struesal I found on another sight. I will be going on vacation so plan to freeze a starter for when I get back!!! Love it and plan to keep it going! From Arizona

Anonymous said...

I started 2 batches, one with yeast and one without. Neither one has ever bubbled and it is the 10th day. I used ceramic bowls and wooden spoons. They do taste a little sour. Any ideas?
from Marcia in OH

Ninette said...

Hi, I don't know if you can make this without yeast as the yeast is what ferments and bubbles and gives the bread its flavor. If your bag with yeast did not bubble at all, I would think the yeast was dead or maybe you refrigerated the batch which you're not supposed to do (even so, it still should have bubbled). First, SO SORRY that you put so much time in, but I would recommend you discard those. Go to the store and buy a new yeast packet. When making a new batch, test your yeast first by putting it in the bowl an putting a little of the milk in the recipe. If you start seeing air bubbles (this might take awhile if the milk is cold), then your yeast is alive and you can add the rest of the ingredients and start again. Hope this helps!

DNovick said...

I love your instructions for leaving out the instant pudding, which seems like the absolutely strangest ingredient! Has anyone tried it this way? Seems like the main change is leaving out the pudding and the milk, but everything else the same. I'm definitely going to try this and also using whole wheat flour. By the way, I did bake one loaf in a metal pan and nothing happened.

Anonymous said...

I worry about the milk not being refrigerated that you add. Has this ever been a problem?

Ninette said...

No, it hasn't been a problem. There's plenty of sugar, a preservative, in there, and the yeast are doing their thing. If you live in a hot climate with no air conditioning and you're worried, you can put it in the fridge, but the cold will retard the yeast activity and thus you'd probably need to let it sit much longer to develop flavor.

finnmeister said...

I noticed there wasn't much of a discussion about using metal loaf pans when it comes time to bake your Amish Friendship Bread. Metal is usually preferred for baking since it provides more uniform heat conduction which results in even baking/browning. I'm on day 1 of my starter, so I thought I'd check first so all my work wouldn't be for naught. Thanks for your help; love the site!!

Ninette said...

Hi, you can use metal pans for baking, no problem, Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I am having a small "girls only" party and want to have a mini loaf of this bread and a baggie of the starter be the party favor. I have about 10 people coming and want to ensure I have enough bread baked. Should I use all of the batter and not reserve any and then make up starter bags from your other recipe? If so, do I have to double or triple the ingredients that I am adding on the 10th day when preparing for baking? Please tell me the best way to go about this. Thank you :)

Anonymous said...

At this time of year, I stock up on the "pumpkin spice" instant pudding and make pumpkin bread. I have also added canned pumpkin. I have made lemon poppyseed and added frozen blueberries to the lemon base and it is OUT OF THIS WORLD. There are SO many different varieties and flavors. I experiment all the time. At Christmas two years ago, my wife and I baked 16 different flavors and gave them away as gifts, etc... The possibilities are endless. Love this blog site. Keep it up.

Melissa said...

Hi, I have a question. I have never started a batter before--always been given it and always had great results. But so, my batter just doesn't look right to me. It doesn't really look bubbly, it separates and has an oily looking top layer until I squish the bag. It goes away and then comes back again later. Tomorrow I am supposed to bake it, but now I feel afraid to try it that it might be bad or something. I also couldn't believe how strong the fermenting smell was on the first few days, but again, I have never started a batch before, so I have no idea if that is totally normal. Thanks!

csdixie said...

Thanks for all the great info through your blog and readers' comments! I also mistakenly used a metal whisk on day 10, and it turned out fine. More than fine - delicious!

The bit about freezing starters is super useful - I was hoping to get to keep a starter w/o having to bake everyday! I'm surprised it doesn't kill the yeast, but I'm assuming it's okay.

Btw, any ideas on how to make a savory variation?

Anonymous said...

The "no metal" warning is because milk is used in the starter. When the fermentation starts, the lactic acid in the milk makes the starter acidic. This weak acid is usually no problem if the mixture is used right away, but acidic glop will slowly dissolve aluminum. For the starter that sits in the container for ten days plus, enough Al may get into it to affect the taste. That is why it is best to prepare the starter in a glass or plastic container. I believe stainless steel is OK too because it is corrosion resistant. The cake is only in the baking pan for under an hour, so metal pans are fine.

Karin said...

To answer some questions...

1. If you use freshly ground grain you don't need to use yeast to make the starter. Just start with 1 C flour, 1 C sweetner (I use Sucanat - dehydrated cane juice but 1 C sugar or 1/2 C honey also works great). Stir together and that begins your Day 1. There is a natural wild yeast in the grain. This is also nice because I can start the process anytime I want!!

2. The reason you don't use metal is because it reacts with the fermenting process.

3. Putting it in the refrigerator greatly slows the process down. This would be beneficial if you wanted to wait a few days before you started the 10 day cycle again. If you see a dark liquid (called hootch) that has separated after leaving it in the fridge, just stir it back in.

4. Keeping it in a gallon sized bag works well because it is just the right size for the batch. You don't need to worry about stirring because you just "squish" the bag to mix. There will be an air bubble as the mixture ferments - make sure to let the air out or the bag may pop. I usually just use a plastic or glass bowl with a towel over the top (unless it is summer and there are flies).

5. If you freeze a bag of starter, when you take it out you should use that to begin the 10 day process again. I found that my original batch makes more than four cups of starter. Once you take out the 3 separate cups, measure out the difference so you know how much you need to use for the recipe.

6. I live in south Florida and don't keep my a/c low. I found that I can make my bread on Day 9 because of the heat (speeds up the fermentation process).

7. Because this is a sourdough, if you have milk which has just soured it is perfect to use for this recipe - don't let the milk go to waste!

8. I have used the pudding and it works out wonderfully!! I prefer it with the pudding. Make sure to use the instant pudding, though. Try chocolate pudding with chocolate chips (omit the cinnamon and vanilla). Try banana pudding with crushed bananas (omit the cinnamon). Try vanilla pudding with banana extract instead of vanilla and add crushed bananas.

This sourdough sweet bread makes great gifts and bake sale loaves too!!

Hope this information helps. Sorry this was so long!


Unknown said...

I have been making friendship bread for 15 years. Got tired of the ziploc bag sometimes getting a little sticky; have progressed to fermenting in a tupperware bowl with loosely fitted lid. I use a metal whisk in lieu of "squeezing the bag."
I also use my kitchenaide mixer with a metal paddle when I'm baking a batch of bread. I have no problem freezing the starter in ziplocs in 1-cup increments. I think the metal thing has to do with it being called "Amish" Friendship Bread" i.e.,supposedly nothing modern is being used in the making.

Anonymous said...

We started making a starter 6 days ago as we want to take loaves and starter to friends at a Cookie Exchange this weekend (6 days away). In reading your blog, it seems the starter recipe & instructions we have, which look exactly like the xerox copy you show in your photo, never mentions yeast in the ingredients. Just 1 cup milk, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup flour. So that's what we did, and we made 10 bags!

I'm afraid this may be a disaster. Is there anyway to salvage what we have started, and add the yeast today (Day 6), and still come out with something comparable on Day 10, or Day 12? HELP!!

Anonymous said...

I have a different question...
I'm looking for the origin of the friendship bread, I can't seem to find it anywhere.. they say it isn't from the amish.. but i can't find where it does come from..

hopefully you can help me! :)


Dave G said...

An interesting article - I've pondered over the vanilla pudding part too - seems like an absolute no-no for an Amish Recipe IMHO.
As for the history as the person above asked, I can't directly trace it back further than the Amish people, although it surely has its roots in the wild yeast breads used since Ancient Egyptian times.

It's very interesting how many variations there are, and how wildly different they can be - from austere savoury loaves to sweet cakes and pancakes with icing! Very strange!

hellodebi said...

Can I use two small boxes of instant pudding if I don't have the 5oz size?

Ninette said...

Hi Debi. I would check the small boxes, and if they add up to around 5 oz., I'm sure you can substitute.

Anonymous said...

So, during the 10 days, you arent supposed to refrigerate the bag??

Ninette said...

Yes, you are right. Do not refrigerate the bag.

Angela said...

I have also read some recipes that use "herman starter" and their base, that seems to be the same thing as the starter here. Try "googling" that and see what you come up with, I have heard the pancakes, doughnuts, bacon cheese muffins, and chocolate chip cookies are great!

Unknown said...

My sis gave me a starter bag on day 6. I didn't add to it until day 7 and want to bake it for a cake walk at work on day 9. Will this work? Thank you.

Ninette said...

I bet it will be fine. Go for it!

Charity said...

Great Answers!! Thank you! I've already made two loaves of bread with my starter and I'm on my second round of '10 days'. Can the bread be made on day 11 or day 9? Do you think that will make a difference in the flavor?

Ninette said...

I think it will be fine, Charity.

Catlett-Mommie said...

A friend I shared a starter with got DAYS behind on mixing and adding. Do you have suggestions?

Ninette said...

Catlett, i think she should continue with the recipe from whereshe left off and see what happens...

Linda said...

Debi I use 2 small boxes of pudding and have never had a problem.
I use instant lemon pudding and instead of using vanilla extract I use lemon. After I make the cakes I let them get cold then make a lemon drizzle with powdered sugar and lemon juice.

Barbara said...

I am having the same thing happen as Melissa -- an oily layer appears at the top. I'm only on day 4 but have had the layer appear since day 2. It bubbled nicely on the first day. Has my dough gone bad?

Anonymous said...

How long can you go over the 10th day? I have made it on the 12th day before and it turned out great. But just got home, its day 16. Took it with me and mushed it every day, thought I would be home sooner but no luck. Should I pitch it and start fresh or go ahead and use it? The best one I have made is the mounds bread. It tastes just like a mounds bar.

Anonymous said...

Accidentally added cold milk instead of warm, will this mess up tge batter?