Tasty Tuesday: Amish Friendship Bread

It’s going around again….sort of like a scourge….only it’s a scourge that tastes delicious and carries a lot of calories. Well, maybe it’s not really a scourge. It’s more like a chain letter, only with sweet bread! Most of you know what I’m talking about. Many of you have probably already done the whole squeeze-the-plastic-bag-for-the-first-six-days routine. In fact, I’m betting that about half of you have instructions for Amish Friendship Bread lying about somewhere. Worse yet, at least some of you have Terrible AFB Guilt.

AFB Guilt is the worst kind. Some friend has given you a precious ziplock bag of starter and now it is all up to you to keep this sticky mess ALIVE long enough to bake with it and gift it to other friends. You don’t want to be the individual that BREAKS this chain….The burden is enormous, especially since everyone knows that only the Amish know how to make the starter…..

OR maybe not.

I know that AFB is going around up here in the High Country because recently I’ve been the recipient of several ziplocks. I’d like to invite you to sneak over and check out a lively discussion about AFB going at My Sisters Kitchen that we’ve been having for over a year now.

The first Amish Friendship Bread post, written in March, 2007, gives all the pertinent info on making AFB, debunks a LOT of AFB myths, and suggests a number of tasty variations. To our surprise, most of the blogging world seemed to want to talk about AFB and the comments on that first post ran to over 130. In that comment section, just about every possible question was posed and answered and just about every possible variation was suggested.

The comments got so long that the page started taking awhile to load. We also noticed the people had started asking the same questions over and over again. So we closed the comments and wrote a second post. To our surprise, people were still not finished talking about AFB. More questions, more answers, and MORE creative ways to use the starter and creative variations on the bread. Those little ziplock baggies of starter are definitely gifts that keep on giving!

Since everyone I know loves the tasty end result of AFB and most everyone I know eventually feels trapped by that high-maintenance starter, I invite you to come join the discussion. If you have your own questions, be sure to read all the comments, questions, and answers first; someone else may have already asked that same question and gotten the answer.

Barb Kelley-Writing at My Sister’s Kitchen.


  1. jennefer says

    I dealt with the dreaded AFB twice starting back at x-mas. All I have to say is that anyone who gives you a ziploc of stinky unrefridgerated goo is really not your friend. BTW I have a recipe for the starter!

  2. Can you really freeze the starter? Has anyone experimented with soy/rice milks and alternative flours? My son in now on a gluten-free/milk-free diet but he loves AFB. If someone posts a recipe for the starter I’ll be glad to experiment.

  3. I just got a starter last night. (: I guess I am in for it.

  4. Tiffany,

    Yes, you can freeze the starter.

    I’ve not tried soy or rice milk and alternative flours, but it would definitely be worth the experiment. You can start with a cup of alternative flour, a cup of soy or rice milk, a cup of sugar and a teaspoon of yeast. The warmer your kitchen is, the less yeast you need. If your kitchen is really cool or if it’s winter, you would use a little more than a teaspoon. Count the day that you mix those ingredients up as day one. Then carry on as the recipe says. Obviously, you’ll need to work with the pudding mix in regards to the gluten-free/casein-free thing. My blog has a number of suggestions on how to adjust the recipe to eliminate the pudding.

    That’s the easiest way to do it. If I were doing this, I’d probably start out with half the amts. on those ingredients and just put the starter thru two cycles before I started baking with it. That yeasty fermented flavor is part of what AFB tastes like so I’d want to make sure I had the starter really fermenting before I used it.

    NOTE: this is the only time you need to add yeast. After the very first day, the starter will be manufacturing its own yeast.

    Tiffany, I’d be very interested in hearing how this experiment works out for you.

    Barb Kelley

  5. Elaine,

    I really don’t want to sound negative about AFB. It’s delicious and we LOVE it! What I didn’t love, initially, was the terrible feeling of obligation and the guilt when I neglected the starter. Once I started learning about starters (both AFB and sourdough) I realized that there’s a whole mythic quality to the AFB thing that just doesn’t need to be there. So many rules to be broken…..Once I realized that *I* was in charge, not the starter, I really started liking it a lot more! It’s definitely one of our favorite sweet treats.


  6. maranda hartman says

    anyone who knows the how to make a starter of the AFB i would love to have it you can email it to me at maranda75@gmail.com thank you so much