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ELIZABETH UPDATE
(FRIENDSHIP BREAD)

FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK

It's summer near the Coblentz farm, which means crisp summer corn, fresh sugar snap peas, a lush, bountiful harvest of vegetables and herbs. In the coming weeks, Elizabeth will share some of her gardening tips on this web-site when I post "The Amish Cook Summer's Gardening Guide" later this month. Elizabeth is obviously still grieveing from the loss of her husband, Ben, in May. But doing work for this web-site, writing her weekly newspaper column, and working on next year's cookbook are healthy diversions for her. I want to thank those who have purchased reprints of Elizabeth's 1994 cookbooks, which are still available (click here for THE AMISH COOK SHOPPE). A less expensive, unsigned version of the cookbook is now also available in the Shoppe.

FRIENDSHIP BREAD

Elizabeth had only been writing her column for a few weeks in the fall of 1991 when the first letters - the letters about Amish Friendship Bread -began coming. I'm a journalist, not a cook, so I guess it is not surprising that I had never heard of that. Puzzled by the passion behind this recipe, I took the letters up to Elizabeth. She, too, was mystified by it. She had never made "Amish Friendship Bread", and neither had anyone else in her community.

Elizabeth researched the topic and eventually found some Amish women in Ohio who were very familiar with the recipe. That's where she got the recipe, and over the years since those first letters came, she's become very familiar with it. The letters, though, still keep coming. People are always requesting this recipe. Good luck making the recipe. If you get into any jams, or have any questions, while making it, please email me and I will take your questions to Elizabeth for answers. I'll post her answers back here. So, without further delay, here is that recipe. There are some tips and background after the recipe.

AMISH FRIENDSHIP BREAD
By Elizabeth Coblentz

PART I

Instructions for the sourdough starter:

3 1/2 cups of bread flour
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 package of dry, active yeast
2 cups of warm water

Combine flour, sugar, and undissolved yeast into a large bowl. Gradually add warm water to dry ingredients. Beat until smooth. Cover with transparent wrap and let stand in a warm place for two days.

PART II

1 cup of starter
1 cup of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup of sugar
3 eggs
1 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 cup of milk
1/2 teaspoon of soda
2/3 cup of oil
1 large box of vanilla instant pudding
2 cups of flour
1 cup of chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 cups of sugar

Directions:

  • Day 1: Do nothing to the starter.
  • Day 2,3,4: Stir starter with a wooden spoon
  • Day 5: Add one cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of milk. Stir with wooden spoon. Re-cover the mixture and set in a warm place.
  • Day 6,7,8,9: Stir with a wooden spoon and re-cover.
  • Day 10: Add 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of milk, stir.

Divide into three containers (1 cup each) and give to three friends with these instructions:

To remainder: add 2/3 cup of oil, 2 cups of flour, 3 eggs, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 teaspoons of vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of soda. Add one large box of instant vanilla pudding mix and one cup of nuts. Pour into two well-greased and floured loaf pans and bake 40 to 50 minutes at 350. Watch towards the end of baking time and cover with foil to prevent burning. Also, test for doneness with a toothpick so it does not get too well done. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then remove. Do not use a metal spoon. Do not refrigerate. Cover loosely. You can also bake this in a bundt pan.

BACKGROUND: Amish lore has several stories for the origins of this popular, sweet-tasting bread. One is that on an Amish woman's wedding day, the mother would supply her daughter with some sourdough starter of her own, and the young bride would begin making the bread for her own family. The bread then gets passed from generation to generation. This practice still exists in some remote Amish communities, but it seems to have died out among most. Others suggest that this was simply a fun bread to make during those cold winter nights and that it became popular as a gift to shut-ins or the infirmed.

STARTER TIPS: Do not use self-rising flour. When you cover the starter, If you use foil, don't let the foil fall into the starter. Let starter sit in a quiet place, away from drafts or hot breezes. You'll know the starter (some call it's completed form, a "sponge") is done when:

  • it tastes "good"
  • the texture is creamy (not "gritty")
  • there is no "flour taste"

The Sponge is pourable and will flow back together slowly on the back of a spoon.

 

Kevin Williams
Executive Editor
Oasis Newsfeatures

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