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Amish Friendship Banana Coffee Cake with Vanilla Chai Streusel

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As you may recall, I’ve been working on perfecting my banana bread recipe for next year’s state fair competition.  I’m on a personal mission to beat a certain lady whose banana bread has won first place for the last three years I’ve participated.  I’m not sure if it’s even possible, because she seems to have magical baking powers, judging by how many ribbons she wins each year.  But if I lose this year, it’s not because I didn’t try.

So far I’ve made seven recipes and have frozen a piece from each loaf so that by the time I feel that I’ve got a winner, I can do a taste-test comparison to make sure.  My husband and his co-workers (they’re my judges) all told me to stop after loaf number three, and they keep telling me that none of the loaves since that one have been as good, but I have to make sure I’ve really got the BEST one.  So I soldier on.

So what does my banana bread quest have to do with this coffee cake?  Well, it was actually inspired by the most recent banana bread I made. The bread version did not turn out as I had hoped, but this cake is utterly perfect.  The winning loaf of banana bread was one that I added cardamom to on a whim, and I figured that adding all the chai spices to it would make it even better.  I keep trying it in different ways, the latest with a chai streusel, but for some reason it’s never as good as the cardamom alone.  It’s giving me a twitch.  I really don’t want to submit a bread called “cardamom banana bread,” when I could submit “chai banana bread,” which sounds so much cooler!

Anyway, after making the chai streusel banana bread, which was good but not knock-your-socks-off, I still had three over-ripe bananas waiting to be used and I was just tired of reinventing my banana bread.  I had to do something else with those bananas.  I happened to get an email notification for a contest for new Amish Friendship Bread recipes at the same time my bananas were screaming to be used, so I defrosted one of the Amish Friendship Bread starters I saved months ago, and created this coffee cake with it.  I’m really hoping to get that $75 Amazon gift card with this one! :)

This is one delicious coffee cake, people.  I really love the flavor of the banana cake and the vanilla chai streusel with the crunchy toasted walnuts.  Match made in heaven.  This is my favorite Amish Friendship Bread recipe I’ve made to date!

If you want to make this but don’t have any Amish Friendship Bread Starter, click here to learn how to make the starter, or if you’re local, I might be able to hook you up if you request it quick enough–I still have one to spare.

Amish Friendship Banana Coffee Cake with Vanilla Chai Streusel

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Vanilla Chai Streusel:
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split & seeds scraped out
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons cardamom
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt
¾ cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour

Banana Coffee Cake:
3 large over-ripe bananas
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
¼ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Generously butter a 13”x9” cake pan and set aside.

To make the chai streusel, combine the sugars, vanilla bean seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt in a small mixing bowl; stirring with a fork until well combined. Stir in the walnuts, then pour the butter over the top and mix until combined. Add the flour and mix until incorporated. Set aside.

To make the coffee cake, mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the melted butter until completely incorporated. Add the eggs and whisk them in until fully incorporated. Add the sour cream and whisk until well combined, then whisk in the starter and vanilla until combined. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until well mixed.

Pour batter into the prepared cake pan and sprinkle the streusel over the top. Bake for 40 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before serving or covering with plastic wrap. Serve at room temperature.

A Veronica’s Cornucopia Original

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Double Chocolate-Rum Amish Friendship Bread

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It’s been a while since I posted any Amish Friendship Bread recipes, and that’s because this is the last one I made and I wanted to save it for December, since the flavor combination reminded me of Christmas.

Are you one that identifies certain foods with certain seasons and holidays, like I do?  For me, pumpkin and pies are fall and Thanksgiving.  December and Christmas is cookies, chocolate, and anything spiked with alcohol.  Like this bread!

This was actually my favorite variation that I came up with, though I haven’t made very many yet.  The bread is so incredibly moist, is nice and chocolatey with a punch of rum and just a hint of cinnamon from the sugar coating.  Very festive, and so yummy!  This would make great gifts, and I plan to break out one or two of the starters I froze in order to give some away this year.  (If you don’t have any starters in your own freezer, you can click here to learn how to make your own.)

Double Chocolate-Rum Amish Friendship Bread

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 cup Amish Friendship Bread starter (or whatever is left after you’ve divvied it up)
3 eggs
1 cup oil
½ cup dark rum
¼ cup Dutch process cocoa
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Generously butter two loaf pans, then dust with the cinnamon sugar. Tap out excess and save for topping.

Whisk the eggs into the starter, then whisk in the oil and rum. Add everything but the chocolate chips and whisk until blended. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips. Divide batter between pans, then sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar over the tops. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over the top and bake for an hour. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out to cool completely on wire rack.

Recipe source: adapted from Friendship Bread Kitchen

Amish Friendship Creamed Cornbread

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I don’t enjoy eating hot, hearty meals in the summer.  It makes me feel icky.  And yet I’ve been eating them like crazy.  Enchiladas, chicken noodles, meatloaf and creamed corn, chicken and rice, pot roast.  Today?  Pinto beans and cornbread. All foods I associate with cold winter months, and that have no business being in my belly this time of year.

OK, so I have some excuses.  The enchiladas?  I had all the ingredients without even planning for it.  The chicken noodles, meatloaf, chicken and rice, and pot roast I made all in a single day with Teri because she was teaching me to cook more homestyle-type foods.  So that’s a pretty good excuse.  And today, with the winter beans and cornbread? Four words.

AMISH FRIENDSHIP BREAD STARTER.

(Click here if you want to make your own starter.  But you might want to read the rest of this blog first.  As a warning.)

It’s taking over my life.  Sparking creative neurons in my brain and making me want to bake things with it that I’d rather not eat this time of year.  But I just couldn’t resist the idea of turning this round of starter into cornbread, despite having no desire to actually eat it.  (Until I baked it of course, and then I couldn’t stop eating it!) I was inspired by the Miller-family’s creamed corn to incorporate the same ingredients into this recipe, which made the most moist cornbread I’ve ever had.  It almost melts in your mouth!

Debbie left a comment yesterday on the creamed corn recipe that made me LOL: “Oh sure, stick a brick of cream cheese and a whole stick of butter on it and you could make your shoes taste awesome!!”  Can’t argue with that, or with what the magic of excessive cream cheese and butter do to this cornbread.  There is not a dry crumb to be found on this bread.  It is so moist, it’s almost a cross between cornbread and corn pudding.  The starter has enough sugar to give it a very nice, sweet, Northern-cornbread feel, and I love the sharp and salty edge the cheddar on top imparts.

If you decide to make this during the winter months, particularly for a holiday gathering, I’m going to tell you right now to go ahead and shred the whole block of cheese and add the other half to the batter.  But if you’re making it right now…well, I hope you’ve at least packed away your swimsuit for good until next summer.  Just sayin’.

Amish Friendship Creamed Cornbread

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Printable recipe with picture

Remaining starter after you’ve divied up three bags for friends
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 ½ cups cornmeal (I used stone ground)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoons salt
1 can corn, drained
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 dish with cooking oil and set aside.

Add the cream cheese and butter to the starter in a large bowl and beat until fairly smooth. Beat in eggs until combined. Stir in cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt just until combined. Stir in corn and mix until well combined. Spread into prepared dish and bake for 30 minutes or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle cheese on top and allow to cool for ten to fifteen minutes before serving. Cheese will melt while the cornbread cools.

Caramel Banana Amish Friendship Bread

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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

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

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)
3 eggs
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.

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