Amish friendship bread is not actually Amish, though the principles behind it certainly reflect that community’s generosity of spirit. It’s also not really bread, being much closer in texture and taste to a coffee cake. Amish starter contains yeast, much like a sourdough starter does, and the custom is to divide the starter into four equal parts, keep one, and pass the other three on to family, friends, and the community, along with instructions for developing the starter and baking the bread.
Gluten-Free and Sugar-Free Breads
The Mayo Clinic reported in 2010 that Celiac disease was on the rise, having increased four-fold over the course of 60 years. Celiac disease is an allergic reaction to gluten that can keep your body from absorbing vital nutrients, but there is a wide variety of gluten-free flours available to home bakers. Simply substitute gluten-free flour in your Amish starter recipe. You can also leave the sugar out when you feed your starter, and add your favorite sweetener to any recipe made with it.
Fruit and Nut Breads
The basic Amish Friendship bread recipe is light and sweet, so simply adding walnuts or pecans takes it easily to the next level. You can also add dried fruit of any kind, or try a combination of fruit and nuts, such as orange peel, cranberries and almonds, or dried blueberries and pecans. Add grated zucchini and carrots for bread that is as nutritious as it is delicious.
Baking is a Christmas holiday tradition in many cultures, and Amish Friendship bread can easily be adapted for holiday recipes throughout the entire year. Add jelly beans, allspice and nutmeg for Easter bread, canned pumpkin pie mix and chopped black jelly beans for Halloween, and chocolate chips and crushed peppermint for Christmas. Go in a completely different direction and add grated cheese and chopped jalapenos for Cinco de Mayo.
Flavor your Amish friendship bread with almonds, honey and cardamom for a treat reminiscent of the rich, exotic flavors of the Middle East. Or add chai – a mixture of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and black pepper that is comforting and earthy.
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