Making Bread

I have a few memories of making bread. The biggest one that tends to stick out was after kneading the dough, I turned on the oven to warm, placed a damp towel over top of my dough and placed it inside. An hour later I went to check on it and discovered that the lovely bowl that I had used to hold the dough in, was plastic and had melted all over the oven. Through the metal bars, onto the burner, dough everywhere and rising. It was a complete and utter failure but an interesting lesson to learn (never use plastic when making bread!). I think I was 14 but it has stuck in my mind ever since.

Recently I have had a huge desire to make bread. Back in January I made a scrumptious Italian herb bread which you can see on day 20 of my 365 Project. But that loaf, while delicious, was a poor substitute for what I was really craving. The bread I have been craving is something that was given to me a few times as a teenager. It’s a unique recipe, made for sharing. You make the dough, split it into four, keep one for yourself to make two loafs of bread and give the rest away to friends. This was something all the girls at my church did and it was a grand adventure at the time (we lead such exciting lives you see). In the making and sharing of the formula, drama could be found. One was always curious who you would pass it along to or who you would get it from. What did giving or receiving mean to your friendship? If you saw a girl giving a starter away but she didn’t give one to you, were you even friends? If you gave her one and she didn’t reciprocate back did that mean she hated you? I don’t believe any friendships were lastingly damaged by the loafs but drama was had, again she lead such exciting lives...

As an adult I don’t know anyone, at least not anyone who lives nearby, that has even heard of this bread, let alone has a starter mix. So I have been on the hunt for the recipe and I found a few. Many were confusing and didn’t have measurements for the starter but did for the actual mixing, it was rather frustrating to be half way there and yet unable to start. Eventually I came across Crazy for Crust and she had enough of a full recipe that I was able to piece together what I needed. That of course led me to a discovery… the starter is a form of fermentation.

Fermenting as a process, disturbs me. Mix up a few ingredients and let it sit for days or weeks or even years! I try hard not to think about what I eat/drink that is fermented (wine for example is a great thing to enjoy when you don’t think about how it is made). In order to make this bread, one that I had now been craving for a month, I would have to ferment. And so I did… for ten days I let this mixture sit in a bowl on my table and do it’s thing. Each one of those days I had to open it up and stir. Fermentation is a smelly process. Finally however I was able to make it into a loaf!

Now I should probably tell you what this bread is called

Amish Friendship Bread

How did it taste? Pretty good. Exactly as I pictured it to be honest. Just a little spiced and sugary bread, perfect warmed up and served as breakfast. I am tempted to make it into french toast and see how it holds up. Once I got over the fermenting process, the recipe is pretty simple. There’s no rising the dough or kneading. It’s just whip up and bake. For my sake I am going to write the recipe up below that includes how to make it, just in case I ever want to do it again.

The starter

1 package — 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water — 110°F
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk — I used non-fat

Day 1 is making of the starter.
Day 2 - 4 stir the mixture once per day.
Day 5 add 1 cup of sugar, flour, and milk. Mix well.
Day 6 - 9 stir the mixture once per day.
Day 10 add 1 cup of sugar, flour, and milk. Mix well. Remove three cups (1 cup into 1 baggy, three times. With the remaining 1 cup follow the bread recipe

The bread

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon — divided
2 cups flour
1 cup starter
2/3 cup oil
1 cup + 4 teaspoons sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Optional: 1 cup of chocolate chips or chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease two loaf pans with butter or shortening. Sprinkle a bit of sugar in the pan and “sugar” it (like you would flour a pan). Alternately, spay with cooking spray, but do not sugar the pans if using cooking spray. (Note: you could make one large loaf with this but it will take longer to bake and you run the risk of a dark outside and a partially baked inside.)

Whisk baking soda, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and flour in a medium bowl. Set aside. Stir starter, oil, and 1 cup sugar with a wooden spoon or spatula. Stir in eggs, 1 at a time, then stir in vanilla. Gently fold in dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips or nuts, if using. Divide batter between two loaf pans. Mix remaining 4 teaspoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle on top of loaves. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool before removing from pan.

NOTES: My oven is super slow and so I baked my loafs covered for 25 minutes and then uncovered for another 25 minutes.
I also only sprinkled the sugar/cinnamon mix on top of one of the loafs as Kevin is not a fan of it. The mixture bakes hard on top of the crust and can throw off baking a little.
There was also way more of the starter then the recipe said. I ended up getting five baggies to give away or freeze.

This was definitely a weird baking moment for me. Getting over my feelings on fermenting and being patient enough to wait ten days for a loaf of bread is not something I would have expected of myself. While it was totally worth it… I have no desire to do anything with the bags of starter I have left, it’s good but I don’t need it again anytime soon. Kevin managed to give two of the starters away and I gave away one. But that still leaves me with two, so if you want to try this let me know!! It’s worth making at least once.

Do you have any funny baking stories to share? Share one in the comments below!

I'm a lifestyle blogger, covering deep subjects including body images, battles with food, and overcoming how I was raised. I try to be as authentic as possible and I don’t sugar coat how I see things.