Recipe of the Week: Amish Friendship Bread - all the sweetness with a healthy twist

My friend Paula is the first one who gave me the starter for this fabulous cinnamon bread. I modified the original recipe (Hopefully, the Amish don't get mad) so it's a bit healthier. If you want some of the starter, please let me know and I can pass it on. The starter is made over 10 days and then you bake the bread. Some call it Pass-It-Along Bread. It's fabulous for breakfast or for dessert.

Amish Friendship Bread
-Do NOT use any type of METAL SPOON OR BOWL for mixing.
-Do NOT refrigerate.
-When the bag fills with air, let it out.
-It is normal for the bag to rise, bubble and ferment. This is part of the process.
*I modified the recipe I was given by my friend to give it a healthier twist. My modifications are in parentheses.

Day 1 – Do nothing.
Day 2, 3, 4 & 5 – Mush the starter bag with your fingers to mix dough.
Day 6 – Add the following ingredients & mush bag:
1 cup of milk (raw)
1 cup of flour (whole wheat white or whole wheat pastry)
1 cup of sugar (evaporated cane juice or raw turbinado sugar)
Day 7, 8 & 9 – Mush the bag

Day 10 –
1. Pour entire contents into a NON-METAL bowl
2. Add & mix
a. 1 ½ cups of flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour.)
b. 1 cup of sugar (1/2 cup evaporated cane juice/raw organic sugar)
c. 1 ½ cups of milk (raw)
3. Measure out 4 separate batters of 1 cup each into four one-gallon Ziploc bags. This is called a starter. Keep one for yourself and give the other three to friends along with a copy of the recipe. Be sure to mark the bags with today’s date.
4. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
5. To the remaining batter in the bowl, add:
a. 1 large box instant vanilla pudding (I use the Trader Joe's brand because of all the unhealthy stuff in most instant pudding like preservatives, aspartame and dyes.)
b. 3 eggs (cage-free)
c. 1 cup oil (1 cup applesauce or plain yogurt)
d. ½ cup milk (raw)
e. ½ cup sugar (evaporated cane juice/raw organic sugar)
f. ½ teaspoon vanilla
g. 2 teaspoons baking powder
h. ½ teaspoon baking soda
i. ½ teaspoon salt
j. 2 teaspoons cinnamon
k. 2 cups flour (whole wheat pastry flour)
l. (1/4 cup ground flaxseed)

6. Grease two large loaf pans or 4 mini loaves and mix additional ¼ cup sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Dust the greased pans with half the cinnamon-sugar.
7. Pour the batter evenly into loaf pans and sprinkle with second half of cinnamon sugar.
8. Bake ONE HOUR. Cool until bread loosens from pans evenly (about 10 minutes). Turn out onto a serving dish and serve warm or cold.

Here are some other fun variations of the bread I found. Our fave variations are to add 1/2 cup of raisins to the batter or to sprinkle the top of mini loaves with chocolate chips.


Chocolate Lover's Dream: Recipes for Valentine Desserts

Maybe it's because I'm pregnant and chocolate is my craving. Maybe it's because February means Valentine's Day, which means there is an abundance of chocolate and desserts in every store, restaurant and on every advertisement. Whatever the reason, I have chocolate on the brain. This is actually a repost from last February but I had to share this Chocolate Lava Cake recipe with some of our new readers. Dark chocolate is definitely the way to go.

What's the skinny on dark chocolate? They say dark chocolate is a potent antioxidant - great for combatting high blood pressure and other diseases. (You don't have to twist my arm!) Of course, pay attention to sugar additives and avoid milk chocolate or white chocolate. Those don't count. Trader Joe's now sells organic free trade dark chocolate bars. Also check out Whole Foods, Kristina's Market and some conventional grocery stores.

Here's a twist on Ghirardelli Chocolate Lava Cakes - great for Valentine's Day treats, Saturday desserts or anytime you want to impress your guests. You will need ramekins or other small pyrex dishes to bake them in. I bought heart-shaped foil pans at Dollar Tree to give them a Hearts Day flair for the fam. Serve them up warm and you will be the new queen or king of the house.

Makes 8 cakes


1/2 (2 oz.) dark chocolate (60% bittersweet Cacao or more)
1/4 cup heavy cream or raw milk

olive oil cooking spray
1 bar (4 oz.) dark chocolate (60% bittersweet Cacao or more)
8 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
2 whole cage-free eggs
2 cage-free egg yolks
1/3 cup sucanat (available at health food stores like Whole Foods) or 1/4 cup organic raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

Fresh organic raspberries or strawberries
Mint leaves
Organic Chocolate Moo sauce (available at Trader Joe's)

1. To make centers, melt chocolate and cream in a double boiler. (If you don't have a double boiler, set a sturdy glass bowl on a top of a small saucepan 1/4 filled with water.) When chocolate melts, whisk gently to blend. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Form into 6-8 small balls, depending on how many cakes you want to make.
2. To make cake, heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray ramekins or tins with olive oil spray.
3. Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler and whisk to blend.
4. With an electric mixer, whisk yolks, sugar and vanilla on high speed about 5 minutes or until thick and light. You will notice the change in consistency.
5. Fold melted chocolate into egg mixtures until combined.
6. Spoon batter into ramekins or tins. Place one chocolate ball in the middle of each ramekin.
7. Bake about 15 minutes until cake is firm to the touch.
8. Cool for 5 minutes then invert onto your serving plate and garnish.

Another new recipe I stole from my mom is for Chocolate-Dipped Granola Cookies. She served this one for guests with chocolate-dipped strawberries - another family fave with a healthy twist. We all were fighting over these cookies. This is from the 101 Cookies recipe book and we tweaked it to add more healthy ingredients. Enjoy!


2 cups organic uncooked oats
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
1/2 cup organic butter, melted
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cage-free eggs
2 teaspoons orange peel, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 12-oz. package semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Makes 2 dozen cookies

1. Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips until blended.
2. Cover & refrigerate overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
5. Use a tablespoon or (Pampered Chef) cookie scoop to shape oat mixture into golf ball-sized mounds.
6. Place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.
7. Bake 10-12 minutes until golden & crisp.
8. Cool 10 minutes on wire racks.
9. Melt chocolate chips
10. Dip tops of cookies one at a time into melted chocolate or spoon a small amount of chocolate on top of cookies to form a small circle of chocolate.
11. Place on wax paper until chocolate is set.

Here are some links to some other Healthy Chocolate Dessert Recipes from Eating Well magazine.

Also, here's a great article about "Chocolate Essentials" from Cooking Light magazine if you want to learn more about how chocolate is made and different types of chocolate used in baking.
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