Amish friendship almond cookies

Few days ago, I got a mail from my dear friend Swapna of Swad asking if I would like to have some Amish friendship bread starter. I knew very little about this starter and was interested to know what it was, so I requested Swapna to mail it to me. After replying to her, I actually searched and read about it in different blogs, then I mailed to Swapna for some more clarifications. She was very kind to answer all my questions.

According to wikipedia,

Amish Friendship Bread (along with Amish Cinnamon Bread) is a type of bread designed to be baked and sent along in a manner similar to a chain letter. The idea is very simple: a friend gives you a cup of yeast culture (also known as “starter”) and a copy of instructions. Following the instructions, you add sugar, flour and milk and it rises. Eventually, you end up with 4 cups of the starter. You use one cup to make bread (the instructions provide you with the recipe), keep one cup to start a new cycle and give two cups to your friends. Each of your friends also gets a copy of the instructions for what to do with the yeast starter. The latter part makes it somewhat like a chain letter.

I received my batch on the 5th day of the starter. It had an instruction sheet with it. According to instructions, I had to add 1 cup milk, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour to the starter on 6th day. Mash the bag. Do nothing on 7-9th days and on 10th day, I was supposed to add few more things to the bag. It would yield 5 cups of batter and 4 of them I was supposed to mail to my friends. With the 5th cup, I was supposed to bake something. It was also mentioned in the instructions that “Only Amish know how to create the starter, so if you give them all away, you would have to wait until someone gives you a starter back“. That was a bummer :(.

On the 10th day, unfortunately, I reached home too tired to do any baking. But I didn’t know if it was okay to keep the starter for one more day. So I thought I had to bake it that day. Lets just say, I prepared muffin batter and after 10 mins of popping them in oven for baking, I realized I had forgotten to add baking soda/powder. The muffins became hard and it was total disaster. So it again proved that in the department of planning things ahead, I score a big “O”. I could have used the second bag and baked something else, but I was completely drained of energy and was in no mood to try again.

Anyway, I had already missed the round and I was feeling pathetic because I had seen all my blogger buddies had created master pieces with the starter. Probably I am the only one who messed up. So I decided to give it another try. I nurtured one bag for 10 days and on the 10th day I baked these almond cookies. That day was Sunday and we had painting classes at 10AM. So I had to get up early and bake the cookies, otherwise I would have missed another cycle. The cookies were awesome, though they were not “good looking cookies”(I chose the perfectly round ones for picture). I made the cookies very mildly sweet. They were crusty from outside and bit soft from inside. They were one of those kind, where you eat one and you keep on eating next one before realizing you had emptied the whole batch :). We finished the whole batch in record time. The cookies were inspired by this chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Thanks a lot Swapna for sending me the starter. I have passed this on to Manjula of Dalitoy and dear friend Aruna. I still have one batch with me, I am thinking to make something again on 10th day :). I made a cornbread with the remaining batch, which didn’t turn out that good, so it won’t make it to AR. Next time when I am out of starter, I am thinking to make the starter from the recipe given here.

Ingredients:
1 cup Amish friendship starter
3/4 cup coarse powder of almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tea spn vanilla extract
1/2 tea spn baking soda
2 eggs
1/4 tea spn salt

Method:
Sieve together flour and baking soda.
Mix sugar, butter (at room temperature), vanilla, eggs, sugar, salt with the starter.
Add flour little by little into the mixture and mix well. Add almond powder and mix.
Preheat oven to 375F for about 10mins.
Spray a cookie sheet with baking spray. Keep about 1 tea spn of dough on the sheet separated by about 2 inches (the cookies expand considerably when baked, so leave enough space). If possible, shape them into rounds at the ends. Bake for about 12-15mins.

Makes about 40-50 pieces

Some amazing creations by my blogger buddies,
Swapna’s Cranberry-nut upside down muffins
Nupur’s Chocolate-Pecan Friendship Bread
Mandira’ Amish friendship bread
Suganya’s Amish friendship bread
Cynthia’s Friendship breads
Jai and Bee’s Friendship Chelsea buns
Sharmi’s Amish friendship bread
Sig’s pumpkin loaf
Lavanya’s Salara

If any of you have tried something with this starter, please leave me a comment and I will update this list.

18 thoughts on “Amish friendship almond cookies”

  1. Nice idea to make cookies Shilpa. It looks very good. The fact that on the 10th day you are forced to bake was a bit troulesome for me too since that happened to be the day I was very busy. But other than that I enjoyed baking with it… 🙂 I made a Salara with it..

  2. Shilpa, thats a nice way to use it in cookies….btw, I happened to see the cake you made for Father’s Day, it was quite creative and beautiful with an Indian platter as theme…I know how much of effort has gone into it but also understand the satisfaction u felt. Good Job 🙂

    Shn

  3. Hey, those cookies look good! There are Amish people living in my state- they have shops to sell crafts and baked goodies like this. Once, on a train trip, I had the chance to talk with some of them for longer conversations. Very nice people, and glad to see you enjoyed making something.

    I found a starter recipe, if anyone is interested.

  4. I used to make Chinese steam bun with home-made starter. A bit similar to the Amish starter, but different ingredients.

    Anyway, what I learned from my instructor is, since it is so tedious to make the starter, we do not let it ‘dies’. Therefore one would save a portion for the next backing. To avoid the starter from ‘over-ripe’, we keep it in the refrigerator. When you are going to use the starter, bring it back to room temperature. Add flour and let it grow again. Then keep a portion for the next time and uses the rest for your baking.

    The basic ingredients that I used for the starter is only flour and water. No yeast .. therefore you would have to figure out how to work with the Amish starter.

    I would be interested to know the results.

  5. Wow these cookies look delicious.. .i had got almond cookies recently.. but they tasted bitter..

    looking at these cookies makes me want an oven…! can i try these in microwave ??

    Shilpa: No idea Ashu :(. I will have to try using microwave for baking sometime, never used it.

  6. Very novel way of using the starter, Shilpa! So what did these cookies taste like??

    Shilpa: Nupur, Thanks a lot. They had a very strong taste of almonds. They were nothing like almond cookies in texture but taste wise they were similar.

  7. Thank You Shilpa. I received the starter you sent me and have been following the directions. I am totally exited about baking with this.
    This is a very well written article with all the informations I need to know. All I need to do is go through all those links and get inspired by the different creative recipes.

    Its amazing how you manage to bake a delicious almond cookie early morning and paint a colorful ‘Splendor of Autumn’ the same morning!!

  8. you do not have to bake the starter every 10 days. Just when ever you want to. i also only feed it about 1/3 cup of each ingredient so i do not have to deal with as much.

  9. Hi there:

    You have been sadly misinformed about the time period that you must use the starter. First…….go ahead and add the final 1 cup of each flour, sugar and milk, BUT, add it to the bag and mush it and when well mixed……..put it in the freezer. Yes, you can freeze it for as long as you want, no time limit. And the other thing is that it will never totally freeze, all it does is get stiffer and stop the fermenting process. Also, sometimes I don’t bake on the 10th day, no worries, I just refrigerate it for a few days and then let it get to room temperature when I want to bake with it or separate it to give away. This starter is not fragile and is very forgiving if you make a mistake. And the starter is easy to make from scratch, so don’t panic if you run out. Go on-line and you will find everything you need. Also you can bake with just using the ingredients and not the fermented starter. Recipe also on line.

    Hope this helps. Relax and have fun. and enjoy.

    Irene
    Oklahoma

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