This is more than a recipe - it's a way of thinking; a touchstone from the past in the hurly burly world. Ten days to sit warm and rising on a cozy kitchen counter. To watch and think of and remember loving moments of friendships past to friendships future. Amish Friendship Bread is a genuine starter bread. When you've made your bread, you can give it your friends a sample and the starter that made it! Then your friends can make their own and pass it along to their friends. This is why the bread is called "friendship bread". It makes a great homemade present for holidays. I've had this recipe for years when I received a starter from a friend. I like to add pecans. Other variations I've seen are adding carrots and raisins , or bananas. Do not use a metal spoon or bowl for mixing. Do not refrigerate. If air gets into the bag let it out. It's normal for the batter to raise, bubble, and ferment.

Amish Friendship Bread Starter


1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 cups white sugar, divided
3 cups milk


Amish Friendship Bread


Mix in large bowl with one cup flour, one cup sugar, and one cup milk. Stir and pour 4 one-cup starters in large zip-loc bags. Keep one starter for yourself and give three other to friends with these instructions.


To remaining batter in bowl add and mix well


Pour into 2 large greased and sugared (mix a little cinnamon and sugar) loaf pans. You can sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mix all inside the pan and save a little for the top. Bake at 350º for 50-60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove bread from pans. Makes two loaves.


Biological Perspectives on Friendship Bread

If you think about it, "friendship" recipes (possibly including sourdough bread) are actually very bizarre hybrid biological/memetic symbiotes, which use their biological qualities (fermenting fungal culture) to provide a benefit (cake) to the host organism (us) which results in the genetic (the culture) and memetic (the recipe) components of the "organism" being spread to new hosts (our friends).

The parallels are not perfect. While wholly biological symbiotes evolve as a result of random mutation and natural selection, one of these hybrids can experience changes in its genome and especially its "memome" as a result of conscious actions on the part of the host. In layman's terms, this is when you change the recipe. These changes are often self-correcting (ie. if the new recipe makes bad cake, you won't use it again or give copies to your friends) but "neutral mutations"* or positive ones (new recipes which taste better) may be passed on to new "hosts" along with the starter.

* such as my friend's fortuitous "eggnog friendship cake" variation, which adds an extra egg and substitutes nutmeg for cinnamon. Very tasty :-) I now pass on both recipes with the starter, having effectively doubled the memome size of the hybrid.

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