Posts Tagged ‘raisins’

Amish Friendship Bread

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

The other day, Leah came home from work with a Ziploc bag full of mush.

I looked at it skeptically.

She handed it to me, along with a single sheet of paper with printed instructions.

I looked at it skeptically.

“Will we do it?” she asked. “I mean, I can take it back to someone else, if you want, but it makes really good bread!”

I looked at it skeptically, but agreed.

After all, most of the instructions are “mash the bag,” and I like to bake anyhow.

That’s how I got my hands on an Amish Friendship Bread starter. The process is very simple. You follow the directions every day (most of the directions really are “mash the bag,” for the day) and then on the 10th day, you bake one part of it into loaves of sweet cinnamon bread, and divide the rest into new batches of starter to give to your friends. It’s kind of like a bread dough chain letter.

The resulting bread is very, very sweet (honestly, a little sweet for my tastes), but tasty. I opted to add raisins, which went well. Now that I’ve made a batch, I can start to see how I might make some adaptations to the next batch. The bread is moist, with a muffin-like crumb. I think it would make very good muffins, actually. The recipe below are the steps that accompanied my batch of starter.

amish bread

Amish Friendship Bread

Amish Friendship Bread

Please Note: As the bread starter rests over the next 10 days, air will build up in the Ziploc bag. This is normal. When you notice air building up int he bag, let it out. Do NOT refrigerate the bread starter.The bread will rise and ferment in the Ziploc bag.

Day 1: Do Nothing
Day 2: Mash the Bag
Day 3: Mash the Bag
Day 4: Mash the Bag
Day 5: Mash the Bag
Day 6: Add the following to the bag and mash it all together:

  • 1 Cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 Cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 Cup of milk

Day 7: Mash the Bag
Day 8: Mash the Bag
Day 9: Mash the Bag
Day 10: Follow the Instructions below to make Amish Friendship Bread

Pour the entire contents of the bag into a non-metal bowl. Add 1 1/2 Cups of flour, 1 1/2 Cups of sugar and 1 1/2 Cups of milk. Mix well.

Measure out 4 separate batters of 1 cup each into (4) one gallon Ziploc bags. Keep a starter for yourself and give the other bags to (3) friends along with a copy of this recipe.

Note: If you keep a starter for yourself, you will be baking every 10 days. This bread is very good and makes a great gift. Only the Amish know how to create the starter, so if you give them all away, you’ll have to wait until someone gives you a starter back. Should this recipe not be passed on to a friend on the first day, be sure to tell them which day the bag is on when you give it to them.

Baking Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

1) To the remaining batter in the bowl, add 3 eggs, 1 cup oil, 1/2 cup milk, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanillla, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 2 cups flour, 1 large box instant vanilla pudding (1 cup raisins or nuts optional)

2. Grease two large loaf pans. In a small bowl, mix an additional 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Dust the greased pans with half of this mixture.

3. Pour the batter evenly into the two pans. Sprinkle the remaining sugar/ cinnamon mixture.

4. Bake for one hour. Cool bread until it loosens evenly from the sides of the pan. Turn onto plates. Or bake mini-muffins for 20 minutes, regular muffins for 40 minutes.

Note: If you google for Amish Friendship Bread, you can find recipes for starters and even kits you can buy with mix for starter in them. We inherited this one, so I don’t know how to tell you to make your own. Apparently, I’ll have new batches of starter every 10 days or so, though, so if you’d like one of your own, just let me know!

Sweet Cornbread Stuffed Pork Chops

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Ahhh…pork week.

This is our “default” pork chop recipe. It starts with brining, which if you haven’t tried, you simply have to, right away. It’s a simple process, just requires a bit of extra time, mostly, but it makes all the difference. Brining takes plain, dry pork and turns it into the most juicy, flavorful chop you’ll ever taste. Just about every kind of pork we eat gets this same brining treatment. The sweet cornbread stuffing is just a bonus. 🙂

stuffed pork chop

Alton Brown’s Stuffed Grilled Pork Chops
Adapted from Good Eats


  • 4 double thick pork loin chops
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 2 cups cider vinegar, heated
  • 1 pound ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups cornbread, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries, halved
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1. In a plastic container put the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and mustard powder. Add the hot vinegar and swirl to dissolve. Let mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes to develop flavor. Add ice cubes and shake to melt most of the ice. Add chops and cover with brine. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

2. Remove chops from container and rinse. Cut horizontal pockets in each pork chop for stuffing. Combine rest of ingredients, and put into piping bag (or a ziploc bag with the corner cut off) that is not fitted with a tip. Pipe each chop full with cornbread mixture.

3. Grill the chops on medium high heat for 6 minutes on each side. Turn each chop 45 degrees after 3 minutes to mark.

Thick, Chewy Oatmeal Rasin Cookies

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Mmm. Oatmeal raisin cookies.

They might be my favorite  cookie of all time. They’re also something of a challenge for me to make.

When I was in college, long before I cooked with any skill or seriousness, I decided to bake cookies for David for his birthday. In some ways, I blame the equipment. My kitchen today is full of quality equipment that were unattainable luxuries to my college self: my KitchenAid mixer, my Calphalon baking sheets, my Wilton cooling racks, parchment paper, a working, full-sized oven. But I was in love, and I was determined.

So one Friday night, after waiting tables at the Olive Garden for about 6 hours, I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning baking oatmeal raisin cookies for David.

I’d been planning this for weeks. I was broke, and couldn’t afford a proper gift for his birthday, but I’d bought a Simpson’s Cookie Jar, and all the packing materials. I had plans to drop the cookies at the mail center on my way to work the next day. I just had to bake the cookies.

I followed the recipe on the Quaker Oats package. It seemed like a good plan at the time. The results tasted okay, technically, but the texture was all wrong. They were thin, and crunchy. Completely flat, not anything like the soft, chewy cookies that my grandmother makes. I wanted to cry.

In hindsight, I can tell you that the ingredients were too warm (the only thing that gets cold in a dorm-sized fridge is cheap beer), the leavening probably didn’t work, and the oven was probably too hot. Oh, and I mixed them by hand, which didn’t get any air into the dough at all. Knowing what I know now, those cookies were destined to be a failure.

Since then, I’ve searched for the perfect chewy oatmeal cookie recipe, and this one from Smitten Kitchen is very, very close. They’re crisp at the edges, but chewy at the middle. The recipe calls for chilling the dough, but I was impatient and skipped that step, so they weren’t quite as thick as they could have been. Still, they came out nearly perfectly. I’m pretty sure I’ve found my go-to oatmeal raisin cookie recipe.


Thick, Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts, if using them.

At this point you can either chill the dough for a bit in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet and then chill the whole tray before baking them. You could also bake them right away, if you’re impatient, but I do find that they end up slightly less thick.

The cookies should be two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (your baking time will vary, depending on your oven and how cold the cookies were going in), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.