Pay it forward: Amish Friendship Bread

Last Saturday Kevin, Doodlebug, and I drove up to Yorktown to meet some good friends of ours for lunch at a lovely little restaurant called The Carrot Tree. It is situated in the historic Cole Digges house, up on the hill overlooking the river. It really is one of my favorite places in the world to eat. If you have never been there, it is well worth the drive! Here is their link if you are interested: http://www.carrottreekitchens.com/home. I highly recommend going. Everything they serve is made from scratch daily. The food is fresh, wholesome, and fantastically delicious. The owner makes an amazing carrot cake that I can only hope to someday replicate.  The only thing to make the experience even better is the company you keep while eating.

The friends that we met there for lunch, we met almost two years ago(!) at our birthing class in preparation for our wee ones. I love getting together with them because they are  some of the sweetest, most down to earth, and friendly people you will ever meet. We also share many of the same views/ideals about parenting, diet, lifestyle, etc. I cherish the times we get to spend together, because we do not get to get together very often. Life and work schedules get in the way far too often, but it is always nice when we can get together and let the rugrats run around together.

While at lunch, my friend gave me a bag of yeast starter for Amish friendship bread. How it works is someone gives you the starter on “day one” of the recipe (the last day of their recipe from when someone gave them their starter bag). For five days you do nothing but mash the contents of the bag once a day to knead the batter and pound out the air bubbles that form from fermentation. On day six you add 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 cup of milk to the bag of starter and mix it together. Days 7, 8, and 9 you just mash the bag.

On day 10 you pour the entire contents of the bag into a non-metal bowl. You add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups of milk and mix well. You then measure our 4 separate batters of 1 cup each into 4 separate 1 gallon size plastic bags. Label each bag “day 1” and the date that you created it. Keep a starter for yourself and give 3 bags to your friends, along with a copy of the recipe. Should the recipe not be passed onto a friend on the first day, be sure to tell them which day the bag is in when you give it to them. If you keep a starter, you will be baking bread every 10 days. If you give away all of your starters, you will have to wait until someone gives you another starter back to make the recipe again, because according to the recipe, only the Amish know how to make a starter. I’m sure a little bit of googling could find you a recipe for a starter, but it wouldn’t be the same as the bread you were given.

Baking instructions:

Preheat oven to 325

Add the following ingredients to the remaining batter in the bowl:

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups flour

1 cup oil (I used sunflower oil)

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 large box instant pudding mix

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp. baking soda

optional: 1 cup raising and/or chopped nuts

Grease  2 large loaf pans. In separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Dust the greased pans with half the mixture. Pour the batter evenly into the two pans. Sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture over the top of the batter. Bake for 1 hour. Cool until the bread loosens evenly from the sides of the pan. Use a spatula to loosen the bread from the side of the pan while the pan is still hot or the bread might stick to the sides and be very difficult to remove.

I didn’t really read the instructions carefully when I made mine, and I just mixed the cinnamon and sugar into the batter. I didn’t even notice the “dusting” instructions until they were already in the oven. Also, I made one loaf and 1 dozen muffins. The muffins if you so choose to make them, will be done long before the loaf, so make sure you don’t burn them. This recipe is delicious. If you are in my area and would like a starter bag, let me know! I have two left right now, and in ten days I will have three more.

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