What is Amish Friendship Bread? History, Recipe, and More

Amish people live in tight-knit communities. Their lives center on their church, home, and families. They even share unique values and traditions and that includes the Amish Friendship Bread.

An Amish Friendship Bread is made from a sourdough starter that the baker can share with friends and neighbors. The whole process of making this bread from scratch takes ten days or more.

Following Amish traditions, you can make an Amish Friendship Bread by sourcing everything you need from natural resources. You can start by milking the cows, milling grains for bread flour, and harvesting sugar canes to acquire sugar. Of course, you don’t have to do all that. You can easily buy these ingredients from the nearest grocery stores and follow the recipe below.

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Amish Friendship Bread

The History of The Amish Friendship Bread

The origin of Amish Friendship Bread is still unclear as of today. People commonly call this Amish Cinnamon Bread because its main ingredient is cinnamon sugar which is very similar to pound cake and coffee cake.

However, according to the book “The Amish Cook” by Elizabeth Coblentz, a member of the Old Order Amish, the actual Amish Friendship Bread is “just sourdough bread that is passed around to the sick and needy.”

It was, apparently, a simple homemade bread served on the tables of Amish families.

The Amish Friendship Bread Recipe was first posted in newspaper columns in the early 1980s and online in the early 1990s, even though the recipe was already many decades old.

Although the history of making Amish Friendship Bread is still unclear, many compare it to a cake called Herman Friendship Cake (or German Friendship Cake) which was developed in Europe.

The Amish Friendship Bread and the Herman Friendship Cake have the same tradition – giving away the starters for free so more people in the community can enjoy freshly baked homemade bread in their own time.

Making the Amish Friendship Bread Starter from Scratch

The Amish Friendship Bread Starter is the main factor that makes all Amish Friendship Bread special. Having an active one on hand is important because it’s usually passed from person to person.

Just one cup of this bread starter can go a long way.

It is possible to make this anytime and anywhere. You will only need four ingredients to make it – active dry yeast or instant yeast, all-purpose flour, sugar or honey, and milk.

Below is a quick guide on how to make one:

Day One

Start Day One by dissolving 2 and 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast or instant yeast in warm water. Let the yeast mixture stand for at least ten minutes.

Add 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup sugar or honey, and 1 cup milk to the yeast mixture. Mix well and put it inside a glass or plastic container.

Use a wooden spoon in mixing. Leave the covered container at room temperature and stir the bread starter daily.

Day Five

On Day Five, feed the starter with 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar or honey, and 1 cup of milk. Continue stirring daily.

Day Ten

On Day Ten, feed the starter again with 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar or honey, and 1 cup of milk. You can now divide the starter into four or more portions.

Bake with 1 cup and give away the remaining to your friends. You may also put them inside the freezer for future use.

During the 10-day cycle, you should smell the starter from time to time. It should smell yeasty and beer-like. If it smells sharp and you didn’t feed it for five days, feed it. Smell it again after 48 hours to check.

You can slow down the 10-day cycle by refrigerating the starter. For frozen starters, treat a thawed portion as if it’s Day One. Just keep the remaining starter inside the freezer to preserve the quality.

The Amish Friendship Bread Recipe

The Amish Friendship Bread Recipe

Baking an Amish Friendship Bread Recipe is easy. For many, slowly-developed yeast always makes the best bread.

This is why many bakers and non-bakers continue to learn and develop new bread recipes from the original Amish Friendship Bread recipe.

Considering that the starter is the heart of this Amish bread, the whole procedure is a handful. However, this Amish bread is worth all the time and effort it takes.

The Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Amish bread starter
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

If your Amish Bread starter is frozen, do not thaw all of them. Just keep the remaining starter inside the freezer.

The Process:

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and set aside two loaf pans. Mix the starter, vegetable oil, powdered sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract in a glass bowl.

Mix the baking powder, soda, salt, flour, and cinnamon sugar in a separate bowl.

Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ones. Stir to combine. Get the greased loaf pans and fill them with one-half of the batter, using one-fourth for each pan. Batter evenly.

Mix an equal amount of powdered and cinnamon sugar in a dry bowl. Sprinkle half on top of the batter. Fill each loaf pan with the remaining batter and sprinkle the rest of the combined sugars on top.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Keep the oven door closed at all times. A sudden drop in temperature may cause your bread dough to collapse in the middle.

Test the bread dough with a toothpick after 50 minutes. If it comes out clean, your Amish Friendship Bread is ready. Allow them to cool in the loaf pans.

Depending on your taste, you may add a bit of a twist to your Amish Friendship Bread. If you want your Amish bread to be a dessert or a sweet treat, add chocolate chips, raisins, diced apples, or anything you like on top of each loaf pan.

You may add a few chocolate chips to the first loaf pan and some raisins to the second loaf pan.

Please note that before you add anything on top of the batter, sprinkle one tablespoon of all-purpose flour first to prevent your mix-ins from sinking.

Making Amish Friendship Bread Recipe Without A Starter

The good news is – you can bake an Amish Friendship Bread without a starter.

It may not turn out as good as the Amish bread with a starter, but this is also a great recipe if you’re craving a nice homemade bread that you can proudly share with your family and guests.

To bake this Amish homemade bread without a starter, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

The Steps:

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Mix the vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, pure vanilla extract, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and all-purpose flour in a large mixing bowl. Mix 1 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar in a smaller bowl.

Grease and dust two large loaf pans with 1/2 of the sugar mix. Pour the batter evenly into the two pans. Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top.

You may also add chocolate chips, raisins, or just about anything on the lightly floured surface of the batter.

Bake for at least 60 minutes. Test the bread dough with a toothpick. Your freshly baked Amish Friendship Bread is ready if it comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing.

How to Store Amish Friendship Bread After Baking

How to Store Amish Friendship Bread After Baking

After baking an Amish Friendship Bread, you don’t have to refrigerate it. For several days, you can store it at room temperature in an air-tight container like any other baked goods.

If you think you won’t be able to consume the whole Amish bread in a few days, you may wrap it tightly and place it inside the freezer.

You may also slice it before freezing to enjoy one fresh, moist bread at a time.

To reheat your Amish bread, toss it inside a 350°F oven for 10 minutes. For an extra treat, you can also top it with melted butter and a bit of brown sugar.

Just like the Amish Friendship Bread starter tradition, you can have one loaf for your consumption and a few mini loaves to give to your friends and neighbors.


There are many variations of Amish Friendship Bread today. You can stick with the original or use your creativity to improve it based on your taste buds. There are also other delicious bread recipes from the Amish that you can try. 

If you’re interested, you may want to read more about traditional Amish food and recipes.

No matter how you choose to bake and serve your Amish Friendship Bread, try not to forget why this is called a “friendship bread.”

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