This Sweet Amish Tradition is the Secret to Making Lifelong Friends

It's a tradition that keeps giving and giving and giving...

Did Amish friendship bread make its way to your elementary school? If you had a little pouch of strange-smelling spongy dough (it’s called a sourdough starter) in your locker, you’re probably familiar. It was a sweet tradition for making a tasty bread with your friends and family that should you should totally try with your gang.

What Is Amish Friendship Bread?

There are several variations of the recipe, but the gist remains the same. It’s a two-part process: creating the starter and baking the bread. The starter itself takes 10 days to form, but once it’s ready, it can last forever (as long as it’s  fed with water and flour every so often), One baker told us she’d been keeping her starter active since 1985! Once the starter is complete, it’s divided into one-cup increments and distributed among friends, saving them the grueling 10-day process. If that’s not friendship, what is?

Don’t have any friends that will share with you? Not to worry, you can create your own starter by mixing 1 cup each of white sugar, flour and milk with a one packet of yeast. Stir it up really well and set aside for 5 days. On the fifth day, feed your starter 1 cup each of white sugar, flour and milk. Stir it well and set aside for another 5 days (10 days total). On the 10th day, feed your starter again and then divide it into one cup portions. One of those portions is now your day 1 starter, the rest you can bake with, share with friends or even freeze to use later.

Amish Friendship Bread Recipe

It’s a little lighter and healthier than the original version but still has that awesome traditional flavor.

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. Cook: 55 – 60 min.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Amish friendship starter
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour (all-purpose is fine too)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar (you can reduce this as low as 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 box vanilla pudding
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 egg
  • 1/2 cup canola oil

Directions

In a bowl, combine starter, milk, beaten eggs, vanilla, buttermilk & oil. Mix well.

In a separate bowl whisk together remaining dry ingredients. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients being careful not to over mix. Pour into a greased, floured 9″ loaf pans. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon, sprinkle on top of batter. 

Bake at 350º for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Yield: 1 loaves

(reduce the temperature to 325º for dark or non-stick pans)

Where Did the Tradition Come From?

Amish friendship bread is a food surrounded by stories. Amish lore has it that an Amish mother will hand down a piece of her starter on her daughter’s wedding day. That way, the family bread will be passed down from generation to generation. When fed with flour and water every few days, the starter just grows stronger. In fact, it lasts so long that Amish families never truly use it up: They keep scooping out one-cup sections to use in baking and feed the remaining sponge so that it can be used again and again. More commonly, though, Amish communities just divide their starter and distribute it among their friends. This tradition lives on today inside and outside of Amish communities.

Be sure to give one of our other awesome quick bread recipes a try with your friends or family.

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Sue Stetzel
Sue has been part of the Taste of Home family for over 16 years. Her collection of magazines dates back to the premier issue in 1993. When she isn’t writing, she’s answering your burning cooking questions and working with our team of Volunteer Field Editors.