Do the Amish really use instant vanilla pudding in their breads?

That question posed itself as I made Amish friendship bread. To make this, you need a starter from a friend, which I was lucky enough to acquire. “Only the Amish know how to make this,” the recipe says ominously. “If you give it all away, you will have to wait until another friend gives it back.”

So of course, I Googled it and found the Amish Friendship Bread Starter recipe. Quite the well-kept secret.

The starter is kept out of the fridge and smells pretty darn funky. You’re supposed to keep letting air out of the bag, too (are the Amish allowed to use Ziplock bags?)

From Days 1 through 5, you do nothing to it. On Day 6, you add a cup of milk, flour, and sugar each. Then on Day 10, you add 1.5 cups more of flour, milk and sugar each, separate it into 4 Ziplock bags to give out (write the dates for Day 1, Day 6, and 10– Day 1 is the day after you make the bread), and make the bread.

First, preheat the oven to 325. My oven is funky, so funky that the rental people promised us a new one. It’s superhot, so I put it on 300 and hoped for the best.

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You add:

3 eggs
1 cup oil (or 1/3 cup oil and 1/2 cup applesauce)
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 large instant vanilla pudding mix

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Now, the recipe says to UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES USE A METAL BOWL. This got me to thinking: the whisks on my handheld mixer are metal, as are the whisks I have. Therefore, I decided to be extra super safe and use a wooden spoon.

Unfortunately, I lack any real arm strength, so I made a Mental Note to get Cadillac to mix it up next time.

And again–instant vanilla pudding? Really? The Amish, who are not allowed to use phones or cars, are allowed to use this decidedly Ungodly Instant Vanilla pudding mix? Yet, I was too chicken to omit it this time.

Then you grease 2 large loaf pans and mix another 1/2 cup of sugar with 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. Sprinkle the pans with half of this mix.

I didn’t have loaf pans– I left them in Cali– so I used one big glass pan.

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Go ahead and sprinkle more of the sugar and cinnamon all over.

The batter, sprinkled with more sugar
The batter, sprinkled with more sugar

Then you bake it for an hour. It took my oven 40 minutes and it almost burned.

Let it hang out for 10 minutes and serve warm. At 10 minutes, mine was still pretty damn hot. So I waited 20.

Luckily, I scored a pic before my family ate it all.

It went quickly
It went quickly

It tasted like coffee cake, not bread. But calling something “bread” magically renders it more healthful, so we didn’t feel guilty about being pigs.

Next time, I’m leaving out the pudding. Maybe I’ll go crazy and add nuts.