Amish Friendship Bread

Rev 0.25, last revised:  Monday, 26 January 2009 19:00:57

WARNING:  This recipe is still completely experimental!  Use at your own risk
(read: don't call me if you were expecting company, made this, and it didn't come out right)!

Amish "Friendship Bread" is a variation of sourdough bread that is somewhat sweet.  Although popularized by the "Amish" connection and their reputed "friendship" with their neighbors, it's likely that bread of this kind has been made for centuries.  As an aside, by texture, Friendship Bread is closer to cake than bread (source for this recipe).

The "typical" recipe for Amish Bread requires one to undergo days of rising and fermenting your starter, making gallons of it in the process.  It seems to be a bastardization of "starting" your starter and making more of that in order to give it away.  A good thing to be sure, but somewhat of a nuisance if taken to extremes and none of the folks that know you want any more of your starter...(:-o)!  So this recipe makes a single loaf...without any starter to have to find a home for.  If someone wants some, just give them some of your "regular" SD starter, and have them use this recipe.

"Friendship" Starter Ingredients:

Mix together each of the preceding ingredients.  Cover and allow to ferment for up to 24-hours.  The starter is ready for use when it's frothy and bubbly, and has considerably increased in volume.  This should take only a few hours for the average, active starter.  Be sure to refresh your mother starter before putting it away.

"Friendship" Bread ingredients:

Combine the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla and beat until light and smooth.  Add the starter and mix until smooth.

Blend the dry ingredients together and fold into the starter mixture.  Pour into a greased Bundt pan (I use a flat pan).  Allow to rise.  As usual, I start from a cold oven...bake at 350F for 40 to 45 minutes.

Variations:


Source:  This recipe was found on rec.food.recipes.  An excellent NG run/moderated by a "Patricia Hill" who can be found at: recipes@swcp.com.  The problem with it for me was the complete misunderstanding of sourdough and how it works on her part (and this isn't to say she's incompetent, she almost certainly faithfully recounted what information she'd been given).  Most of the "real recipes" posted there are usually OUTSTANDING!  Sadly, this one was not.  So, I'm in the process of "fixing it", here.  A difficult thing to do when you don't know just how "Friendship Bread" is supposed to come out...(:-o)!

The most serious error in her description was on how to make the "starter".  You CAN NOT get to sourdough by using commercial baking yeast!  Yet the fiction that this is so continues to be promulgated as if it had legs. 

The next issue was the use of sugar in the "starter".  The wild yeast that's at the heart of sourdough CAN NOT utilize sucrose as food!  That's for commercial yeast!  Yet this too continues to be promulgated as if it had legs as well.

The pseudo-process she presented was somehow supposed to lead to a sourdough-like culture at the end of some 10-days or so of ongoing propagation.  And this could work, as that's how a proper sourdough culture is made.  But it should only take a few days, no more than 5, to get to a stable and usable culture.

So, I've taken her otherwise excellent recipe and have been working to make it work properly with real sourdough organisms...a fun and interesting hobby for me.  I've tried to contact her, but must have ticked her off as she's not deigned to reply to me.  When I get this recipe "right", I'll try to contact her again.