Monday, July 7, 2008

Amish Sourdough Cinnamon Friendship Bread

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't out looking for a starter for Amish bread but when one of my guests at our get-together brought a batch and gave me the starter I was pretty excited. I had gotten two batches within the last year or so that I had to throw out because I didn't do what I was supposed to do with them and I was too busy to bake the bread. This time, I was determined to make it all the way through the 10 day process and bake the bread. I was successful! I did take a picture of a piece of my bread but I didn't have my flash on so the picture is very blue. Sorry.

In the meantime, I found out quite a bit about this stuff. Here is what I found out: (1) Not just the Amish can make the starter. There are several recipes on the Internet for starter. (2) You can freeze the starter. (3) You can freeze the bread once you bake it. One of the recipients of my starter told me she bakes them all throughout the fall and winter and then freezes them. (4) There are several variations of Amish bread including pistachio, chocolate and chocolate chip! (5) You can make the bread without adding the additional sugar. (6) You can bake it in a metal pan. The bread my guest brought to our party was baked in a metal pan and it was fantastic. (7) some people like getting Friendship Bread starters more than others. I felt weird passing out gallon size bags of this yellowish goo to my friends. I really didn't want to insult them or lose them as friends. But they should know that they don't really have to bake the bread. I promise I won't ask and you don't have to tell. You can do what I did several times and just toss the bag out if you don't want to bake it. Some people describe Friendship Bread as a form of baking "chain letter." I disagree because there is no bad luck associated with breaking the chain. Perhaps it's a racket started by the plastic bag manufacturers or the instant pudding companies but it is good cake. So, keep an open mind when someone hands you a bag of this stuff.

Amish Sourdough Cinnamon Friendship Bread*

· Don’t use any type of metal spoon, bowl or pan (glass, plastic or wood only)
· Do not refrigerate
· If air gets in the bag, let it out.
· It is normal for the batter to rise, bubble and ferment.
· You can go over by a day or two to feed the starter but you can’t bake it early!

Day 1: You received fermented batter in a one-gallon bag. Do nothing. Place bag on kitchen counter.
Day 2: Mush bag several times during the day.
Day 3: Mush bag several times during the day.
Day 4: Mush bag several times during the day.
Day 5: Mush bag several times during the day.
Day 6: Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk. Squeeze several times.
Day 7: Mush bag several times. You can open the bag to release air bubbles.
Day 8: Mush bag several times during the day.
Day 9: Mush bag several times during the day.
Day 10: In a large non-metallic bowl, combine batter with 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and 2 cups milk. Mix with a wooden spoon. Pour four 1-cup starters into four 1-gallon Ziploc bags. Give to family and friends with a copy of these instructions.

To the remaining batter in the bowl, add:

1 cup oil (or ½ cup oil and ½ cup applesauce)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups flour
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1 large box instant vanilla pudding

Grease the bottom and sides of pans. In a separate bowl, mix 1-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and ½ cup sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle half this mixture into two well-greased loaf pans before pouring in batter. Sprinkle remaining half on top. Bake at 325 degrees for an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes two loaves or one 10 x 15 inch glass pan baked at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Cool until bread loosens from pan and then remove.

*Bread, hah! What a scam. This is a yummy cake.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Home Made Breadcrumbs

I mentioned that we had a get-together last Saturday night, right? We had exactly 54 people at our house. It was definitely a record for us. We didn't have too much left-over, which is good. But we had lots of hamburger and hot dog rolls that hadn't been eaten. In my experience, when you put hot dog and hamburger rolls in the freezer, they shrivel up and don't taste quite the same after they thaw. I had the idea to make home made breadcrumbs with the left over rolls. I did a little research after talking with my mom. She mentioned that "stale" bread isn't what you should make breadcrumbs from. The bread needs to be "dried". Naturally, I didn't believe her at first. After I googled "home made breadcrumbs" and found a website with directions on how to make them, I believe her. They specifically said that you shouldn't use stale bread. If you do, the breadcrumbs you make will taste stale too. The directions are simple. The breadcrumbs can be made with any type of bread that you have left over. Here is what they said to do:

1. Place bread on a cookie sheet and put into a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes. Flip the bread over, halfway through the drying process.

2. Take the bread out of the oven and let cool (so you can handle it).

3. Tear the bread into smaller pieces and put into your food processor. Turn the food processor on and grind the bread until it gets to the consistency you like for your breadcrumbs.

4. Put into a plastic bag or container and freeze.

I tried this process on Sunday. It worked like a charm. Home made breadcrumbs are much tastier than their store-bought counterparts but you also save money by making them yourself. If you think about it, it is also better for the environment because you won't have the empty container from the breadcrumbs to throw away. You can reuse the plastic bag for your next batch of home made breadcrumbs. The only negative was that it was fairly messy. Crumbs got all over my counters and the floor. I am sure that I am going to love cooking with my home made breadcrumbs, though!

The Creative Cook