Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Amish Friendship Bread - no starter required

While the Internet has made your average hand-written letter almost obsolete, there is one piece of mail that has survived the technological evolution, the chain letter. If you don't remember the paper version, you are probably still well aware of the electronic version. Originally, a friend would send you a letter with a list of (usually) 10 names on it. You were to write out one letter for 10 of your friends plus one letter for whoever's name was at the top of the list. In your letters you would remove that top name, add your own name to the bottom of the list and then send your letters out. Always, a promise of good luck would befall you if all 10 friends received their letters and continued the chain. Today, it’s so much easier to be a friend. We get a forwarded email that we can quickly forward to 100 friends (that's extra good luck!) before your first cup of morning coffee goes cold.

I have friends who still enjoy these. I personally never did, except maybe the very first time when we were young kids and just getting MAIL addressed to us was a big thing. I cannot tell you how many times I've broken the chain, but I can tell you that if my good luck was hinged on how many letters I did NOT send, then I'd own stock in the Luck Company.

So what does this have to do with food? It brings us to the chain letter of baking, Amish Friendship Bread. You receive one liquid cup of a sourdough starter from a friend. Then you stir it and feed it flour, sugar and milk in a particular order for the next ten days. At this point you have grown your starter and it's time to divide it up: one portion to bake, one portion to start another round of starter and two portions to give to friends. The basic dough can be used for sourdough type breads but the Friendship Bread is the recipe that gets passed along with the starters. If you haven't eaten Friendship Bread you're missing out. No, not on friends, on a deliciously sweet cinnamon bread that is even more addicting than the forwarded emails.

Similar to my experience with the hand written letters, I can find plenty of reasons that don't allow me the time or patience to stir and feed the starter for 10 days, so imagine my excitement when I found a recipe for Amish Friendship Bread without a starter! I've since changed the recipe slightly. Sure, we can't trace it back to someone's Aunt Sally in Hoboken and it does have a few modifications, but it's an excellent substitute when you're craving something sweet for breakfast, brunch or with your after-dinner coffee. Or... if you just happen to have a couple friends over, say... fixing the plasma television your precocious toddler just bashed in with a two dollar Happy Meal toy, it makes a second loaf they'll surely appreciate being sent home with.
Below is the original recipe with my cinnamon-sugar mixture added, but at times I have also substituted 1/2 of the vegetable oil with applesauce to make it a bit healthier and I have also tried adding 1/2 cup dried cranberries or currents. So far it's been fun and easy to experiment with but tastes just fine in its basic form.

Amish Friendship Bread - no starter required

1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 (3 1/2 ounce) box instant pudding mix (any flavor)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

For topping:
1/2 cup white sugar
2-3 teaspoons cinnamon (to taste)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine oil, sugar, vanilla, eggs, salt, and cinnamon.
Add flour, milk, soda, pudding, and baking powder. Mix well.
In small cup or bowl combine the topping ingredients.
Grease 2 large loaf pans and sprinkle with a portion of the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Pour batter into pans and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top. Bake for 1 hour.

Yield 2 loaves
15 min prep time
60 minute cook time


  1. Boy...I am so happy to get this Amish friendship bread recipe with out a starter. My husband loves it with his coffee, but keeping up with the starter was hard. When you are a busy person. Thanks again

  2. I am so glad you will be enjoying this recipe. Keeping up with a starter with kids didn't work for me either.


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TinksTreats by Lorilyn Tenney is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License