Friendship bread: lots of work, lots of flavor

RECIPE FINDER

March 22, 2000|By Ellen Hawks | Ellen Hawks,Sun Staff

People always seem to be looking for a recipe for Amish Friendship Bread. Faith Debes of Fallston responded to requests for the sourdough bread from James Brooks of Glen Burnie and Terri R. Abraham of Albuquerque, N.M.

Debes said you have to plan to make this bread in advance because the yeast starter needs to be made five to seven days ahead of time.

She found the recipe in "New Recipes From Quilt Country" by Marcia Adams.

Makes two 15-inch loaves

STARTER: (see note)

1 package active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 cup bread flour

1 tablespoon sugar

SPONGE:

1 cup sourdough starter

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

2 cups bread flour (see note)

BREAD DOUGH:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

3 1/2 cups bread flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, plus additional for greasing baking sheets and rubbing on finished bread

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENT:

cornmeal for coating baking sheet

Make the starter: Dissolve the yeast in warm water in a warmed glass bowl. (You can warm the bowl by filling it with hot water for 1-2 minutes.) Whisk in the remaining ingredients and combine until smooth. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or cheesecloth.

Allow the mixture to stand, at room temperature, for 5 to 7 days or until the mixture is bubbly and has a sour aroma. A clear liquid will form on the top of the starter 6-12 hours after the original mixing, which is fine. Stir it into the mixture every day with a fork. After the starter has become sour, cover and refrigerate until needed.

Make the sponge: Measure out the cup of starter and transfer to a large bowl; allow it to come to room temperature. Add the lukewarm water, then whisk in the flour until smooth. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or cheesecloth and let stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 days. The longer you leave it, the more biting and sour the flavor of the bread will be.

Make the dough: To the sponge, add the oil, sugar and salt, and mix well. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour with the baking soda; add gradually to the sponge mixture. Continue to mix, adding the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time. The dough will be soft, springy and not sticky when enough flour is added; your dough may take a bit more or less flour.

Add the dough-hook attachment to an electric mixer and knead the dough (or do so by hand) for 10 minutes. Butter the top of the dough, cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled, in a warm, draft-free place.

Punch the dough down firmly and divide in half. Transfer one half to a floured surface and roll out to a 12-inch-by-15-inch rectangle. Roll up the dough tightly, starting from the longest side. Seal the sides and ends by pinching the dough firmly together with your fingers.

Pat and form into a smooth roll and transfer to a greased baking sheet that has been coated liberally with cornmeal. Repeat with the remaining dough, placing the second loaf on a second sheet. Cover, and allow the loaves to rise for an hour, or until doubled, in a warm, draft-free place. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

With a sharp knife, lightly score the top of each loaf with 4 diagonal cuts. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 200 degrees. Remove the loaves to a rack to cool and rub with softened butter. Slice thickly and serve.

Notes: For every cup of starter you use, add 3/4 cup bread flour and 3/4 cup liquid (buttermilk, milk or water) to the starter. If the starter is not used for more than 2 weeks, scoop out and discard 1 cup and feed the starter again with 3/4 cup bread flour and 3/4 cup liquid.

The author of the recipe prefers to substitute 1 cup whole-wheat flour for 1 cup of the bread flour for a bit more texture and flavor.

Tester Laura Reiley's comments: "This is a huge amount of work, but it pays off in an endless supply of fabulous bread. You have to nurture the starter, so don't attempt this with any travel plans in your near future. The starter will die without food, and all this work will be for nothing. The resulting bread is not exactly like a California-style sourdough. It's not as crusty, with a finer crumb and smaller air holes in the bread. The tang of the sourdough is balanced out a bit with the bread's sugar. Make a note to yourself to stir the starter every day, and then to do the same with the sponge. The final bread making is no more complicated than any other bread recipe. This bread is great warm, although it makes good sandwich bread, too."

Recipe Finder

* J. Shively of Carnegie, Pa., is looking for a recipe for a casserole with chopped onions; browned, ground meat; cooked elbow macaroni; and a can of tomatoes or a tomato sauce. She said she made it once but cannot find the recipe.

* Janice Radford of Gambrills requested a recipe for a pastry with fruit filling and one for a lemon "pudding type" dessert with a graham-cracker crust on the bottom.

If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request for a hard-to-find recipe, write to Ellen Hawks, Recipe Finder, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. If you send in more than one recipe, please put each on a separate sheet of paper with your name, address and daytime phone number.

Important: Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Please type or print contributions. Letters may be edited for clarity.

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