Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Friendship Bread- Starter

My mom has made Amish Friendship Bread for as long as I can remember-and everyone loves it.  We usually drop the whole Amish thing and just call it "Mom's Bread", or "Kathy's Bread".  We bring it to brunch and dish it for dessert.  It is so good.  If you aren't familiar with Amish Friendship Bread, it is a sweet, dessert-cake-bread that begins with an ongoing starter that ferments for 10 days until you mix in some final ingredients and bake a few loaves; however, you keep part of the batter off to the side as your next 10-day starter.  You repeat this every single time you bake- or every 10 days.  Yes, this means you have generations of yeast being grown and kept for several "cycles" of bread baking.  My mom has been making this for so long that her starter is from 2002.  Yes, folks, there are 10 year-old yeasties in our bread (although my husband claims this is impossible. I do think its still in there- or at least breading more- you never add a pinch more yeast after the first cycle and my mom hasn't added any since 2002, yet its there).  Weird?  Kinda.  Good?  Oh, yes.  I've got one of her starters now, so the yeast lives on!
Today's recipe is for the starter.  This means that this recipes is what you will start with, from scratch, and let ferment on your counter top for 12 days.  If you keep this particular starter going, each cycle after this one will be 10 days because you already have fermentation going and you do not start from scratch.  Tomorrow I will explain how to turn your starter into yummy bread and how you get ready for your next "cycle".

4 Cups flour, divided
2 cups warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp if you use the jarred yeast in bulk)
2 cups milk, divided
2 cups sugar, divided

Day 1:  In glass, ceramic, or plastic bowl, mix 2 cups flour, warm water, and yeast.  Leave uncovered on kitchen counter.  Do not refrigerate.
Day 2, 3, 4:  Stir well with wooden spoon (rumor is you have to use a wooden spoon.  I'm not going to question.  I think plastic would work just fine, but no metal).  Still leave unrefrigerated.  We cover it with a loose fitting lid.

Day 5:  Stir and add 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, and 1 cup sugar. 
Day 6, 7, 8:  Stir with wooden spoon.
Day 9: Stir and add 1 cup milk, I cup flour, and 1 cup sugar.
Day 10 and 11:  Stir well with wooden spoon.
Day 12:  Separate mixture into 4 containers, measuring 1 cup each.  Use one cup to bake your bread (recipe tomorrow!), keep one for yourself as a "starter" for your next batch, and cover and refrigerate the other 2 and give them away (after all- it is called friendship bread!).  If you don't have time to bake on day 12 (or day 10 after this starting cycle), you can refrigerate the batter until you are ready- my mom always says "It's so forgiving".

If you don't have any friends that want the starter, bake three of the one-cup containers, but always save one for your next round.  Once you do this, repeat the cycle- but this time you can bake on Day 10.  Also, don't be alarmed if you hear a "pop" in the middle of the night and find the lid popped off your container.  This is completely normal and the yeast just doing its thang.
Like I said, I will give you the actual bread recipe next time!  Go get a starter going!


  1. I absolutley LOVE Amish Friendship Bread. And I have soooo many recipes for different flavors. possibilities are endless!
    thanks for the starter recipe!

  2. OK I have a question.... when i give a started to a friend...wht are they suppose to do? do you have that tutorial so I can give it to them?

    HELP.... My starter is ready to give away

  3. Hi Cherie! You are sweet- a lot of the time I don't give my starter away and just keep stocking up my bread supply (more because of not having someone who wants it as opposed to being selfish!). Once you give the starter away, they will follow the same "cycle" that you did, but they just don't need to start with the beginning ingredients. So, they get a starter, and that is their "day 1". They will do the stirs and feed on days 5 and 9. However, instead of waiting until day 12 to bake, they can bake on day 10. Does that make sense?


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