Have you ever heard of Amish Friendship Bread? This is how it works. A friend gives you a bag of starter and instructions with a recipe, and over the next ten days you knead the bag and add more flour, sugar and milk to it. On the tenth day, you take out three cups of the starter and put one cup each into three bags to give to friends along with instructions and recipes. Then you add stuff to your leftover starter to bake two loaves of Amish Friendship Bread. It’s the bread that never dies!
Back in 2000, I got burnt out on Amish Friendship Bread because it spread like the plague among my friends. We couldn’t seem to get rid of it. I finally had to stop accepting bags of the starter because I couldn’t bear to eat one more piece of the bread. Eleven years later, I was finally ready to make another go of it, although the thought of it made me feel a little ill. When I eat something until it makes me sick, I can hardly ever enjoy it again.
Thankfully, Amish Friendship Bread is proving to be an exception. Perhaps because I flaunted the usual recipe instructions that comes with the starter, which always includes a pudding mix, or perhaps because I gave myself enough time to recover from the AFB overload, but my love for the bread has been fully restored.
This variation was inspired by the circumstances that inspire me most frequently in the kitchen: what I had on hand. In this case, homemade caramel sauce and overripe bananas. The bread is very moist, almost like a pound cake, with plenty of banana and caramel flavor. OK, so mine was heavier on the banana flavor because I happened to add some banana extract to it, believing that 1 1/2 cups of caramel sauce in the recipe would surely overpower the flavor of banana, but the extract was completely unnecessary, so I omitted it from the recipe below.
I chose to dust my pans and the tops of the loaves with cinnamon sugar, which I thought was nice, but you could simply grease and flour your pan and maybe swirl some dulce de leche on top before baking. Mmmmm. Or serve with extra caramel sauce. Double mmmm. No wonder I kept a starter for myself from the batch I made! I can’t wait to make this again.
Caramel-Banana Amish Friendship Bread
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Remaining Friendship Bread starter
1 ½ cups caramel sauce, room temperature
1 1/3 cups mashed banana (3 medium)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Butter two loaf pans and dust with cinnamon sugar. Shake excess out onto a sheet of wax paper, or a large dish, and reserve extra for topping.
Put the friendship bread starter in a large bowl and beat in the caramel sauce, banana, eggs, and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir until blended. Pour into prepared loaf pans and sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar over the top. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.