Amish friendship bread is like a chain letter, but instead of ten years of bad luck, you receive a delicious baked treat for your efforts.
However, anyone who's ever been a part of the Amish friendship bread chain knows you can get a little overwhelmed with the starter. While the namesake bread is delicious, you'll want to switch it up once you've had your fill.
What is Amish Friendship Bread?
For those who don't know what Amish friendship bread is, it is a cinnamon-laced sweet bread made from a sweet sourdough starter. Starter recipes make several cups which you separate into bags, four or more depending on how ravenous your starter is, which you pass out to your friends and family.
They can then bake with it, or follow the starter recipe to get their own stack of bagged starters to pass out or freeze. As starters are made and passed out, baking and joy spread into the community.
The bread's origins are unknown, but it's believed to mimic the Amish tradition of giving sourdough to those in need in the community.
How to Make Amish Friendship Bread Starter
The making of the starter is a ten-day process with easy steps. It goes like this.
First, mix together:
- 1/4 cup warm water at about 110 degrees Fahrenheit
- 1 package of active dry yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
Let the mixture get frothy for a few minutes, then mix in:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup milk (2% or higher fat)
And place it in a ziplock-type bag or a non-metal bowl loosely covered with plastic wrap (it's important to not use any metal while making this starter). Leave it on the counter to ferment. Then follow this ten-day process.
- Day 2: Mash the bag.
- Day 3: Mash the bag.
- Day 4: Mash the bag.
- Day 5: Mash the bag.
- Day 6: Add 1 cup each of flour, sugar, and milk. Mash the bag until it is mixed well.
- Day 7: Mash the bag.
- Day 8: Mash the bag.
- Day 9: Mash the bag.
- Day 10: Pour the sourdough into a nonmetal bowl. Add ½ cup each of all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, and milk. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
I personally found it easier to keep the starter in a large glass bowl with plastic wrap, stirring it every day.
Next, divide the starter into one cup portions, placing each portion into a ziplock bag to give away with the instructions on how to care for their new starter. Keep at least one cup reserved for yourself to bake with or to start the process over again to get more starters. These individual cup portions are either started on day one or baked right away while they are still fed and bubbly.
What Can I Make with the Starter?
There are many recipes that can be made with this starter, including the Amish friendship bread. This is the recipe I use, which makes two loaves to share, but there are many out there with slight variations.
When I recently made my new starter, I used one cup to make bread and another to make these wonderful Amish friendship bread cinnamon rolls.
These rolls need an overnight start, mixing flour, milk, and one cup of starter and allowing it to bubble up for 10-12 hours. Then you use this mixture to make the dough, which is rolled out, brushed with melted butter, and slathered with cinnamon brown sugar.
Next, they are rolled up and sealed and sliced (best with a serrated knife), and placed on a baking sheet to proof for half an hour. You want to leave plenty of space, as they rise when they bake. I did six to a large baking sheet. Then they go into the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for thirty minutes. While the rolls are baking, mix up a cream cheese frosting to smear onto the rolls while they're still warm.
These Amish friendship bread cinnamon rolls require a bit of work and eleven days time but are worth it for that bite of warm, gooey cinnamon perfection covered in cream cheese frosting. Once you have a starter made, there are so many recipes to try! The starter makes wonderful baked goods and is worth the ten days of mashing and mixing.
These cinnamon rolls are best enjoyed over tea with friends. Our Spice of Life cinnamon black tea pairs well with any kind of spiced baked goods with its wonderful spice-and-citrus flavor. Or, pair it with your favorite chai, like Full Moon chai (a vanilla butternut masala chai) or Uplifting Coconut chai.
If you're looking for a caffeine-free alternative, Golden Cacao chai is a warming herbal tea that ties together chai spices, turmeric, and cacao into a cozy cuppa you can enjoy before bed or on a relaxing morning when you don't have anywhere to be.
Amish Friendship Bread Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter bubbly and active (see above)
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1 teaspoon salt(see
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 - 1 cups flour, plus more for dusting
- 3 tablespoons butter melted and reserved for later
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons butter softened
- 2 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine starter, two cups flour, milk, and starter in a large nonmetal bowl. Allow to sit 10-12 hours or overnight.
Mix sugar, egg, shortening, salt, baking soda, and baking powder into the starter mixture. Mix in 3/4 - 1 cup of flour into dough until it is workable and not sticky. Adding too much flour will make the rolls hard.
Place dough onto a well floured surface and roll into a rectangle that is 1/2 inch thick.
Mix cinnamon and brown sugar together, breaking up large clumps.
Brush melted butter onto dough and sprinkle the cinnamon brown sugar mixture over the butter.
Roll the dough tightly and press to seal the edges.
Slice into 12 rolls and place on a parchment lined or well greased baking tray, leaving a good amount of space for each roll to rise and spread during baking.
Allow rolls to rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake rolls for 30-35 minutes.
Mix together frosting ingredients and spread over rolls while they are warm, not hot. If the rolls are too hot, the frosting will melt onto the pan.
Adapted from Friendship Bread Kitchen.