Remember this picture? I've been asked several times over the past years "what is in that bag?" And each time I tell the person asking, "the best bread you've ever had!" Nope this isn't another biscuit post, but it does include yeast. I promise this one won't take as much effort!
I remember seeing baggies of odd looking batter sitting on Grandma Bacon's counter when I was little too. I'd poke at it, squish it, and wonder what the heck it was, until baking day! The smell of a sweet breakfast bread filled the house, just as mine did today. Even the kids exclaimed that it smelled like cookies baking in the oven. So what is it you ask? Amish friendship bread, and the secret to making it is letting it 'grow' on the counter for 10 days. Traditionally someone gives you a bag of starter mix along with a recipe. You are to add to it and care for it for ten days. On that tenth day, you add a few more things to the batter, and divide it out into baggies and pass it on to your friends. After you hand out a few, you might find your friends running in the opposite direction when they see you coming down the hall! Yes they get a bit hard to giveaway after a while! My solution, bake the whole batch for yourself! It will make a lot of breads, but what better to have in the freezer than some yummy breads for breakfast, snack time or unexpected guests.
Here is the starter recipe.
In a GLASS or PLASTIC bowl (this step is VERY important. You don't want to use anything metal when mixing this recipe up which also means mix with a plastic spoon, rubber spatula, or my favorite a silicone whisk) mix:
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
Pour into a large plastic zip top baggie and label with the date. Place it on your counter- don't worry it will be ok! You've completed day one!
Day 1: Do Nothing.
Day 2: Mush the bag and let the air out
Day 3: Mush the bag and let the air out
Day 4: Mush the bag and let the air out
Day 5: Mush the bag and let the air out
Day 6: Add to the bag 1 Cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. I mix these up on a bowl again (remember NO METAL!) and I have Mr. Bacon help me pour it into the baggie. You don't need a second set of hands, but it does help! Mush the bag and let the air out.
Day 7: Mush the bag and let the air out
Day 8: Mush the bag and let the air out
Day 9: Mush the bag and let the air out
Day 10: Mix and divide starter as follows. Pour the entire contents of the bag into a non metal bowl. Add 1 1/2 Cups Flour, 1 1/2 Cups Sugar, and 1 1/2 Cups Milk and mix well.
If you'd like to share the starters with friends, measure 1 Cup Batter into 4 gallon size zip lock bags. Keep one for yourself and give the other 3 to friends along with a copy of the recipe. You will end up with 5 batches of bread (4 bags and 1 in the bowl) Since I make the whole batch for myself, I skip this step.
Now you are ready to add the rest of the ingredients and bake the bread! One thing I love about this recipe is that there are so many ways you can make it. Today I made Regular (vanilla), Pumpkin spice, Chocolate peanut butter & lemon poppy seed. I can't wait for breakfast tomorrow!
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place about 1 1/2 cups batter in the bowl - remember no metal spoons or whisk- use only plastic or wood for this!
3 eggs- beaten in a separate bowl before adding
1/2 cup milk
1 cup oil (you can make this healthier by doing 1/2 oil & 1/2 applesauce or all applesauce!)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 large box instant vanilla pudding (or 2 small boxes)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups flour
*If using Self - Rising Flour omit soda, salt and baking powder.
All ready for the oven!
Here are some variations you can use that came with my recipe that was handed down to be my a friend. Feel free to make your own flavors too. You really can't go wrong with this bread.
Add 1 box pumpkin spice pudding and 1 vanilla instead of just the vanilla or two pumpkin spice pudding mix. I add in 1/2-1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice to this too!
Use the basic mix recipe except use Chocolate Pudding instead of Vanilla make sure to add the 2 tsp cinnamon it really makes the bread taste the best.
Peanut Butter Cup:
Used basic mix recipe, except use Chocolate pudding instead of Vanilla. Omit the 2 tsp cinnamon in the batter. Add 4 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter to the batter and one bag Reese's peanut butter chips. I didn't have the peanut butter chips this time, but it still tastes great without them.
Cherry Cheese Cake or Strawberry Cheese:
I used the basic mix, omitted the cinnamon and used two small boxes of cheese cake pudding instead of the vanilla. I added a small pack of cream cheese or 1/2 large pack (3-4oz softened) and 1/4 cup more milk. You also need a can of Cherry or Strawberry pie filling. After putting the batter into the pans dab teaspoons of cherries on top of them and swirl around with spoon to mix in the cherries. Cook at 325 until dark golden brown.
Before I start the Amish bread I get my pans ready and make the streusel 1 stick butter or margarine at room temp. 2/3 C – 1 cup packed brown sugar 2/3 C – 1 cup flour cinnamon - as much as you like. Put the ingredients together. (1 C chopped pecans are optional.) This will make approx. 2 cups. If you like a little more, increase the sugar and flour to 1C each.
Make your Amish bread according to directions. Use French Vanilla pudding or Vanilla Pudding. Put approx. 1-1/2 C batter in the bottom of each pan and spread into the corners. (Batter will not be runny - sort of a heavy batter.) Top with 1/2 C streusel, remaining batter and remaining streusel.
Banana Nut Bread:
Use the basic mix with 1 cups of walnuts or pecans , 2 large mashed bananas and 1 large box of banana cream pudding instead of vanilla pudding.
Substitute lemon pudding mix and use 1 tsp almond extract instead of vanilla, omit the cinnamon. You can add in 2 tsp poppy seeds to the mix.
Add 1 Large box of butterscotch pudding and 1 1/2 cups of butterscotch chips. Omit cinnamon.
proceed with recipe.
Apple Cinnamon Bread:
Make the streusel 1 stick butter or margarine at room temp. 2/3 C – 1 cup packed brown sugar2/3 C – 1 cup flour cinnamon - as much as you like Put the ingredients together. (1 C chopped pecans are optional.) This will make approx. 2 cups. If you like a little more, increase the sugar and flour to 1C each. Make your Amish bread according to directions. Use Vanilla or French Vanilla pudding. Put approx. 1-1/2 C batter in the bottom of each pan and spread into the corners. (Batter will not be runny - sort of a heavy batter.) Add 1 can apple pie filling evenly throughout the each loaf. Top each loaf with remaining batter and the Add streusel topping last, bake as directed.
Use Orange extract (I use about 4 Tsp). You can also add 1/3 c. of orange juice and use only 2/3 c. of the oil. I have also used Orange Zest as well and then use the juice of the orange instead of juice. I have used chopped pecans and have also done it with toasted Almonds as well.
Replace vanilla pudding with cheesecake pudding. Add 1 small can of mandarin oranges and
1 small can of crushed pineapple(I mix the oranges and pineapple together to equal about 1/2-3/4 c. of fruit) Add:
1/4 c. coconut
1/2 c. white chocolate chips
1/2 c. Chopped macadamia nuts (optional)
This bread is so moist you have to cook it a little longer than usual.
I use the chocolate pudding instead of vanilla. Take a can of German Chocolate frosting and cut it into the pans using a knife. This takes a little longer to bake as well.
So how do I keep all these yummy treats from going bad? My second favorite kitchen gadget, my food saver! My model has a button that I can stop the suction of air and just seal the bag half way though which makes it so I can't squish the breads. They freeze very well this way. Don't have a food saver? No problem, you can wrap the bread in plastic wrap and tin foil or freezer paper.
So plan ahead a get a starter bread going, what kinds are you going to make? Make sure to look at your calendar, you want to make sure 10 days from now you will have time to bake up the bread!
**Many have questioned how the milk can sit out on the counter without going bad, it is because of the fermentation process that happens when you add the yeast. It's much like a sour dough bread. If you are worried, according to some studies,starting with a buttermilk instead of pasteurized milk is slightly more safe because of the bacterial cultures. But if you are making it all for yourself and baking one large batch instead of passing the starter on, It's ok to just use regular milk. I hope that helps clear up some confusion. I'm happy so many are trying out this recipe!
**If you are sharing this starter with others, there should be about 1 cup starter in each bag. The person you pass it on to will take the starter and add day 1 ingredients to it and follow the rest of the 10 days before baking. :) They might not get as big of a batch out of it but it won't be that noticeable. Happy Sharing!