Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike. -John Muir

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Amish Friendship Bread (The Chain Letter of Baking)

Usually, a few times a week I am sent some kind of chain letter that promises that Bill Gates will explode my computer if I don't send it to 10000 of my closest friends.  Usually, this email comes from my mother (love you mom).  This recipe is a chain letter, but instead of promising doom if you don't send it, it promises that your friends will be joyous and appreciative of the delicious little bit of love you have given them.  It takes 10 days to make, but most of the work involves mushing a ziploc bag.  

For the starter you will need:

1 package active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (110 degrees F)
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 cups granulated sugar, divided
3 cups warm milk (110 degrees F), divided

Day 1
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes.
In a medium glass, plastic or ceramic container, combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly. Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Cover loosely and let stand at room temperature until bubbly.
Days 2 - 4
Stir starter with a wooden spoon.
Day 5
Stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.
Days 6 - 9
Stir starter with a spoon.
Day 10
Stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. 
Remove 1 or 2 cups to make your first bread, give three cups to friends along with the recipe. Store the remaining starter in a container in the refrigerator and begin the 10 day process over again.
You can also freeze this starter in 1 cup measures for later use. Frozen starter will take at least 3 hours at room temperature to thaw before using.  Be sure to date the ziploc bags that you put the starter in for your friends (for the bread recipe today is day 1).


Bread Recipe Instructions
(don't forget to give these to your friends with their 1 cup starter in a ziploc bag)

Day 1: Do nothing day
Day 2: Squish bag
Day 3: Squish bag
Day 4: Squish bag
Day 5: Squish bag
Day 6: Squish bag
Day 7: Add to bag: 1 ½ cups each: flour, sugar, milk & squish bag to mix.
Day 8: Squish bag and let air out.
Day 9: Squish bag and let air out.
Day 10: Empty contents of bag into a large mixing bowl. Add ½ cup each: flour, sugar and milk. Combine ingredients thoroughly. Pour 1 cup of this mixture into each of 3 sturdy Ziploc gallon size bags.  Date the bags and give to friends along with a copy of this instruction sheet (for them today is day 1).

Add to the remaining mixture: 
1 cup oil
 3 eggs 
½ cup milk 
1 tsp vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix the following: 
2 cups flour 
 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding (yum)

Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Grease 2 large bread loaf pans well.  Pour dough into pans. Sprinkle extra cinnamon and sugar on top. Bake at 325 degrees F for one hour.

Note: I like to make my bread in small bread loaf pans so I can give them with the recipe and starter so my friend know how yummy this bread is.  And there are a number of wonderful variations to the bread available online!

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