Sunday, March 11, 2012

Amish Friendship Bread

Have you ever heard of Amish Friendship Bread?  It's the chain letter of the culinary world.  But in this case, if you pass it forward, you friends (those that cook or bake, anyway) will truly love you; if you don't pass it on, no biggie.
In case you don't know, Amish Friendship Bread is a sweet quick bread type bread/cake made from a fermented mixture of milk, sugar, and flour, known as a starter.  After minimal tending of the starter for 10 days, you're ready to make the bread.  The "tending" can be done in a gallon sized freezer bag, and it only has to be fed once.  The other days, you just mush around the bag and leave it on the counter.  On day 10, you refresh the starter, divvy it up for sharing, and bake your own batch of bread. The starter recipe can be found here.
The starter, around day 6 or so...

The result was am uber delicious, super moist cinnamony cake.  I can only describe it as boozy french toast.  It has that extra tang that you get with desserts containing alcohol, which I usually don't like.  AT ALL!  But this, my friends was fantastic. 

Cinnamon sugar topping

Better yet, the starter is very versatile!  Recipes abound on what to do with the starter.  I visited the Friendship Bread Kitchen, where they maintain an archive of at least 190 variations and alternatives, including cookie, waffles, brownies, and Amish Friendship Bread flavor combinations.  They also have starter recipes for those on alternative diets (gluten-free, sugar-free, etc.).
I had an extra bag of starter left over and decided to try the brownies.  I was worried it would have that tangy flavor, which I didn't think would mesh well with chocolate, but it tasted like a chocolate cake or quick loaf.  The texture was definitely more cakey than brownie-ish, but tasty all the same.

Brownie/Cake using the last of the starter

For the record, I'm pretty sure the Amish didn't come up with this; at least not as this recipe is written.  I wouldn't imagine they'd be using instant pudding mix!

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