Here’s a brief introduction plus a few tips and recipes below to help you get started…
This bread is made with a sweetened sourdough starter that you typically receive from a friend (that’s why it’s called Friendship Bread). The “legend” is that it was first “started” by the Amish who gave it to friends who then turned around and gave it to their friends and so on until a batch found its way to you…but you’re not out of luck if you don’t have any Amish friends, you’ll find instructions below to create it from scratch yourself ;).
Once you receive it (usually in a ziploc bag), you feed and care for it (adding a few ingredients, mushing the bag daily) for 10 days. After 10 days you’ll have enough for 4 portions (4 cups)…1 you use to bake a loaf, 2 you give away (or bake more with) and 1 you keep to make another batch that will be ready in 10 days.
It is used to make a delicious, moist cake or sweet bread (think banana) that has a cinnamon flavor to it but there are lots of different flavor combos you can try (I’ve shared some ideas below). You’ll find most require at least 1 cup of starter and a box of instant pudding mix, so it’s a little different than what a typical loaf requires.
Here are some quick tips and then a bunch of recipes to help (even a couple for the original starter itself!).
- How to tell if a starter is good or ok to use? Discard any which smell bad, turn reddish or orange in color, or grow mold. Good ones are bubbly and have a sour smell; it should smell sweet and tangy. Here’s the source with more safety tips that is no longer online: Safety (web archive).
- Can it be frozen? You bet! Allow to thaw and bubble and burp before using in baking. This is a great relief to those who aren’t frequent bakers but enjoy making the occasional loaf for themselves. This whole process can quickly get tiring for those who dread baking every ten days so this is good to know.
- When giving away a bag, mark the date on the bag that it was first mixed, this will help the recipient keep track of the process.
- To keep it active, do not refrigerate but keep it at room temperature. You can try storing it in the refrigerator after the fermenting process is on a roll and then return it to room temperature a few hours before baking to get it going again (mentioned in the safety link above).
- Every set of instructions I’ve come across warn against metal coming in contact with the starter, that means no metal utensils, mixing bowls and baking pans.
I had a lot of bookmarks for this and many are pretty much the same so I just listed the ones that had something unique to share, either an ingredient substitution or had some nice flavor twists to offer. Enjoy!
- Starter & Bread Recipes: Shares instructions for making the original starter and the recipe for making the bread, yields two loaves (standard recipe using 2 cups of starter, self-rising flour, cinnamon, a box of vanilla instant pudding and other ingredients). From Chickens In The Road.
- Alternate To Instant Pudding: No box of instant pudding in the house? This page offers an alternate recipe (along with others). From Big, Bold, Beautiful Food.
- Tropical Version: Ingredients include applesauce, white chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, instant coconut cream pudding, starter and more ingredients. From A Southern Grace.
- Pumpkin Walnut Loaves: Made with instant pumpkin spice pudding mix, pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin puree, a cup of starter and more ingredients. From Lindsey’s Luscious. She also shares a Lemon Poppyseed version here.
- Lots of Flavor Variations: You’ll find recipes for Banana Nut, Chocolate, Apple Cinnamon, Butterscotch, Mounds Bar (chocolate & coconut), Chocolate Mint, Lemon, Cranberry Orange, Banana Chocolate Chip, Cherry, Caramel Apple, Pumpkin Spice, Strawberry, Chocolate Cherry, Carrot Cake, and Chocolate Muffins. From Chowtown.
- Chocolate-Pecan: Made with chocolate pudding, chocolate chips, pecans. From One Hot Stove.
- Banana Raisin: This is made with whole wheat flour, banana, raisins and reduced sugar. From Ahaar.
Do you have experience working with this and have a tip or favorite recipe I missed? Please feel free to share with us all in the Discussion area below :).
I have a recipe for Amish Bread and I find it confusing, After making the starter does it take another 10 days before making the Bread? Doreen
Yes that’s right Doreen, you feed the starter for 10 days and then you can use it for baking. If you receive a gift of starter, the date should be on it letting you know how old it is. If it’s already 10 days old, you can use it right away in baking (but it will only be a one-use batch, you won’t be feeding and growing it into more batches). Does that help?
I received a starter batch my my daughter’s teacher. Have done all of the mushing for 10 days. After you divide up the batter, you add the rest of the ingredients to the batter you keep and the rest of all of the batter you give away needs to be baked right away or frozen right? I am a little confused when it says to keep a “starter” batch for yourself and you will be baking every 10 days. Does that make any sense? Thanks…
Hi Amy, the extra portions are either baked right away or kept then each are “fed” and mushed for 10 days to “grow” more batches. It keeps multiplying like that. Does that help?
I got it! It seems that if you kept “growing” batches it would get sweeter. Does all of the sugar feed the mixture?
sure does yeast loves sugar
My wife has been making this bread for some time now and has been adding different ingredients. She makes chocolate bread and adds chocolate pudding and chocolate chips and nuts. It is VERY good, but, the bread has a greenish color to it. The taste is great but the color is a little odd? Is there a reason that the bread takes on a greenish tint?
Adding walnuts to a recipe will give the bread a green color. It’s okay to eat it..just makes it ‘interesting!’ I have just now, written a message to Alton Brown, he does cooking shows, at least he used to, I don’t have a T.V. anymore so am unable to watch the cooking shows. I have asked him to explain ‘why’ the bread turns the color green when walnuts are added. I am curious about that too. I found him by asking ‘Google’ “How can I contact Alton Brown too ask a food question?” He will eventually give you/us an answer. All the Best, ~A.
have done this for years have several recipes carrot cake cinnamon rolls bread many flavors coffee cake, You can use fresh pumpkin to make great pumpkin bread. Bananas and mini cho chips is the fan favorite i sell some of that. Coffee cake with apples is another favorite. I feed and bake every week if i dont have time i just dump some of the starter and keep it in a square lg tupperware container on my counter with a calender of what days to feed. Then you can bake with it anytime.
I ended up with two starters for myself – how do I make bread out of the whole bag of starter without dividing it out?
Thank you so much for including the link for a bread without the pudding! Someone gave me the starter, but I don’t want to use the pudding in the bread and was looking for an alternative. 🙂
I didn’t measure out 4 separate batters and added all the ingrediants!! Help how should I separate it or is it ruined?
I am looking for the same answer as 2 of the women above…I have my batter after 10 days…I have done this enough times and do not feel like separating it and starting over again. I have given starters to all I know. Is there a way to cook the whole starter (with all the added ingredients of course)?
I’ve figured out that if you don’t want to share starter, or if you’ve run out of people to give it to, then you can take only one cup of starter out for yourself and double the bread recipe (I measured and everything–it works great!). It’s great to have around–last Christmas my grandfather came over when we weren’t quite ready and hadn’t yet made any of our usual Christmas goodies–I took a loaf of Friendship Bread out of the freezer, put it on a nice plate, stuck it in the microwave, and voila! It was a great hit.
Hello of I added too much milk in doubling the recipe will it work if I add oil??? Or did I just mess it up completely??
Hi there. I have 2 starterS and right now they are on day 4. I’ve mashed the bags every day. I understand that on day 6, you add to it. Today however I’d like to just bake it even though it’s just day 4. Is it ok to do that? Appreciate your thoughts. Thanks