Q: Melissa…my family loves the sweet sour dough bread, we use it for so many things. I used to have the Amish Starter but it died when we went out of town, can you tell me how to make a new starter?? My family loved that bread!!!
A: I love my Amish Friendship Bread Starter. It is extremely versatile. However, most people who have heard of Amish Friendship Bread are only familiar with the Sweet Cinnamon Bread that is typically made with the starter. You can do so much more! I have been making this bread off and on for years. I like to make small loves of the Cinnamon Bread to give to friends and church members. It is often requested by those who have received a loaf! A recent favorite is my Blueberry Muffin recipe. My daughter Laura loves these muffins! I make a number of different recipes with the starter and I will be sharing some of these recipes with you during the upcoming weeks – so stay tuned!
I received my first batch of the starter several years ago from a lady in town who had been making the bread. I had tasted it and requested the starter. Typically, if you receive the starter from a friend, you will get your starter in a gallon size baggie along with a piece of paper with the instructions for maintaining your starter by feeding it every 5 days and the recipe for making the bread every 10 days.
Since that first batch I have experimented quite a bit with the recipe and the starter and have learned a lot about Amish Friendship Bread that your friends will never tell you – because they don’t know!
First of all, sourdough starters are very forgiving. If you forget to feed your starter on day 5 (according to the instructions) don’t fret! Your starter is not doomed for failure. Just go ahead and feed the starter and keep going.
Many times, as in Heather’s case, a starter dies out because you go on vacation or you are simply tired of making the bread and want to take a break. This does not need to happen! Simply write on your baggie the date and the day you were on (i.e. Day 6) and put it in the freezer. Pick up where you left off when you thaw it out.
I bake with my Amish Friendship Bread on Sundays and Thursdays because those are my baking days. You’ll notice that that is only every nine days instead of the ten days stated in the instructions. It still works beautifully and I am able to bake bread on my schedule.
In order to make each of the recipes I will be sharing over the next few weeks, you will need to keep the following starter alive by feeding and nurturing it. Feeding the starter is a 10 day process and takes very little time each day. Here are the instructions:
Amish Friendship Bread Sourdough Starter
1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 oz. warm water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Place all ingredients into a large bowl and stir until mixture is creamy. This can be a covered bowl or a gallon size zipper bag. You can cover your bowl with plastic wrap or with a tea towel like I did. If you are using a zipper bag you will mush the ingredients around instead of stirring. Also, if the bag gets air in it, please let the air out or it will eventually pop. Let the mixture stand in a warm place to ferment for 2 days. It will bubble and have a sour odor. After the second day, you start your Friendship Bread. You should have 1 cup of starter. Do not refrigerate this starter. Keeping it in the fridge will slow down the growth of yeast and you will not get the desired results from this starter. However, if you need to take a break from the starter (i.e. your going on vacation) you can freeze the starter. Thaw and start over where you left off. You do not want to use a metal bowl or spoon.
Take your 1 cup of starter: Day 1, 2, 3, and 4 – stir each day.
Day 5, add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk. Stir well.
Day 6,7,8, and 9 – stir each day. On day 10 add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk. Stir and put 1 cup of mixture in another container. This will be your starter that you keep going. Tomorrow you will begin this process over. Put a lid on the container or use a gallon size zipper bag.
If you have two friends to give some of the starter, take 1 cup each and put into gallon size zipper bags to give away. If you only take out 1 cup of starter to save for the next batch, you will have enough starter left to make 4 loaves of the basic Sweet Cinnamon Bread. If you take out your starter and the two starters for your friends, you will only have enough left over to make 2 loaves of your quick sweet bread.
Should you forget to feed the starter or miss a day or two because you weren’t able to bake the bread on day 10, don’t fret! I have actually gone several days without baking the bread and it works fine. My hectic schedule does not always permit me to bake bread “on schedule.” If you do not have a friend to share the starter with, bake a double batch of bread or other sourdough recipes (more to come here!), or throw the starter out, or place it in the freezer to use at a later date. Don’t feel like you have the keep three starters going. There is no way to keep up with that much starter and baking!
Basic Sweet Cinnamon Bread
To the 2 cups of starter you will add the following:
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°. Mix all ingredients together well. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake for 20 minutes and sprinkle the tops of the bread with cinnamon sugar generously. Continue baking for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown or until a cake tester comes out clean. If you have 4 cups of starter simply double the recipe.
(Picture Coming Soon!)