Amish Friendship Bread redux

Planning for a bake sale in April, I got the idea to make AFB plus bags of starter that would be the right amount for the purchaser to use all at once, without having to commit to the “chain letter” part of the process. The sale, which was yesterday, was quite successful. I brought 4 mini loaves and 22 muffins. All but 4 muffins were bought. But just 3 of the 8 bags of starter (with accompanying directions) sold. It turns out that only about half the attendees had ever heard of it, and most of these do not bake. I hadn’t made AFB in probably 25 years; in that time, a generation has matured with little kitchen experience.

My reason for this post is to say that the loaf I kept, which is the classic variety, with a few tweaks (butterscotch pudding, coconut oil, golden raisins, half of the sugar brown, plus butterscotch chips), is truly superb. I’d completely forgotten the difference AFB starter makes in a quickbread, and encourage bakers to try it. My prior experience had ended badly when a starter I’d used for a couple of “generations” turned bad, or so I thought. With the arrival of the internet, there’s more expertise to access, and I see that it might have been salvageable.

For the bake sale, I made three flavors: White Chocolate Banana Walnut, Pineapple-Coconut, and Pistachio. The puddings used were banana cream, coconut cream, and pistachio. Though vanilla pudding will work for any flavor combo, I thought I might as well choose flavors for which corresponding pudding flavors are sold. I chopped up dried banana and dried pineapple from Trader Joe’s, and used TJ walnut, coconut, and pistachio oils, because I had them already.

www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com has some 250 recipe variations, including options for vegan and gluten-free starters. Though I used whole wheat pastry flour and various sugars for the baking, to play it safe I used AP flour, cane sugar, and whole milk to create the starter. Since I have unsold starter to play with, I will extend its life with WW flour, maple syrup, and perhaps diluted yogurt. I’ll be trying out the recipes for AFB waffles and cornbread, too.

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gosh, I haven’t had an AFB going in a long, long time (anybody remember Herman?). I also had a potato starter that I kept going for eons – hubby and I didn’t buy a loaf of bread for about 1-1/2 years.

Might have to dig out that recipe card again – and hit that site to see how to modify it to work with WW – we are big fans of nuts and seeds in our sandwich bread – and Mr. Teenager just might benefit by seeing what it’s like to make your own bread. (he was spoilt by the time we spent in France-- with no less than EIGHT boulangeries within a 15-minute walk of the house, I had no reason to make bread!!)

So I used plain Greek yogurt to feed the freestyle starters, and it works. I didn’t dilute it per se, but included the whey that separated out from the contents of the partially-used container, along with the firmer yogurt. Since I don’t routinely have milk on hand, this simplifies things for me. I used agave nectar on one starter, Grade B maple syrup on the other, with yogurt and whole wheat pastry flour on both.

I winged a “creamsicle” AFB with the agave starter, using thawed OJ concentrate in place of most of the dairy, doubling the vanilla extract, using vanilla pudding. Subbing monkfruit sweetener packets for most of the added sugar in the basic AFB recipe worked fine. I had TJ’s juicy dried mandarin orange segments, so I soaked a handful in water, then chopped them and added them to the batter along with white chocolate chips. Does the cake taste like a creamsicle? Not really, but it’s delicious nonetheless.

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never heard of it and i went to high school not far from amish country. instant pudding in an amish recipe seems weird to me…

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The Wikipedia article says there’s probably little if any actual Amish heritage to this recipe, although sharing a sourdough starter IS part of Amish culture. As evidenced in the recipe variations at the website linked above, there are versions without the pudding mix, but it does make a moister loaf.

Since I last posted, I’ve done a loaf with Solo almond filling, sliced almonds, and rhubarb, and a coconut version using coconut milk, virgin coconut oil, shredded coconut, and almonds. Both are delicious. A friend likes the coconut best, but I still give top marks to the creamsicle variation, second best to the original cinnamon/walnut/sultana loaf. They keep very well in the fridge. I had the last piece of my first loaf 4 weeks to the day since it was baked, and it was still great, though the crunch of the sugary crust had softened away, as is to be expected.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold