State Fair

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Blue Ribbon Maple Pecan Amish quick bread

I have been meaning to post this recipe for a while, but I have not made a loaf of this bread since I started this blog.  I borrowed the picture above from Ben's Sugar Shack because this is what my bread looks like warm.  I hope Ben won't mind!  I won first place in the "quick breads with nuts" category at the Minnesota State fair in 2010.  2010 was the fifth year I entered the bread.  Finally all the planets aligned and it was my time to win.  Amish quick bread starter was being passed around a lot in the 1980s and 1990s, but it seems to have fallen out of fashion. My coworker Diane gave the first one cup of starter to me along with instructions and a recipe back in the mid-1990s.  I have not had to make the starter from scratch and it is 16 years and going strong!  I'm fairly sure I may have only a microscopic amount of the original starter in mine. This Amish starter is virtually indestructible!  I also remember thinking "oh my gosh, I'm going to have 4 cups of this starter and I have to make it all or give some away."   I learned over the years, after no one wanted any more, that you can freeze it in 1 cup portions!   It lasts at least 6 months in a freezer bag!!!  What people don't realize is you can take a 1 cup portion from the freezer, defrost it overnight on the counter, and make breads from it without waiting 10 days!   I've got some "cooking" on the counter right now.  See all the bubbles?  They are noisy and the fragrance is sweet and yeasty.

Here is a picture of the finished product-for the state fair they need to be baked in small pans:

Here is the recipe for the starter:
Ingredients:
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45
degrees C)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup room temp milk

Directions:

Day 1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes. In a large plastic or glass mixing bowl combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or flour will lump when milk is added. Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Cover loosely and let stand until bubbly. Consider this day 1 of the 10 day cycle. Leave loosely covered at room temperature.
Day 2:  do nothing
Day 3:  lightly stir with a wooden spoon
Day 4:  do nothing
Day 5:  do nothing (don't you just love this!)
Day 6:  add:
1 cup room temperature milk
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
Stir to combine.  The mixture will be lumpy.  (Sometimes I poke the lumps to expose the flour and stir a little bit more because I just can't help myself !) 
Day 7:  do nothing-- watch it bubble and listen to the crackling sound!
Day 8:  lightly stir with a wooden spoon
Day 9:  do nothing
Day 10:   add to the existing batter:
1 cup room temperature milk
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar.
Stir to combine.  The mixture will be lumpy.   Put one cup of batter each into 3 freezer bags or 1 cup containers.  Freeze or give away. You should have approximately one cup of starter batter left in the bowl.  ( Or you can freeze it all and use it later....see tips at the end of this post.) 

Preheat oven to 325°
Grease or spray (2)  9 x 5 loaf pans

To what is left in the bowl mix in the following:

3/4 cup vegetable oil  
1/2 cup milk
3 large eggs lightly whisked
2 teaspoons pure maple extract or maple flavoring

Use electric mixer on low or mix by hand to combine the wet ingredients. Set aside.

Here is where I make the optional maple pecan topping and set it aside:
1/2 cup of finely chopped pecans-not toasted
1/8 cup sugar
1 tablespoon melted salted butter
1 teaspoon maple flavoring or pure maple extract.

In a small bowl mix together first the pecans and the sugar. Then mix in the melted butter and maple flavoring. Set on top of the preheating oven to keep it warm and easier to work with.

Now for the dry ingredients:
In a separate bowl mix together:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large box of vanilla instant pudding (5.1 oz box)
Set aside.
Have on hand 1 cup toasted chopped pecans (mix in right before batter is ready to pour into pans)

Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients-mixing on low or by hand and not for too long.  Then stir in 1 cup toasted chopped pecans.

Pour into the 2 well-greased loaf pans and sprinkle the top of each with half of the optional maple pecan topping.
Bake for one hour. I usually check at about 45 minutes with a toothpick inserted in the center.  You want the toothpick to come out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Then remove from pans and let cool completely for about an hour.   They freeze exceptionally well!  

Tip:  to use the batter straight from the freezer:  While mostly frozen take a spoon and scoop it out of the bag or container into a bowl and let it sit on the counter overnight.  You can make a bread straight from this batter or you can use this as your base to start counting from day one and make a whole new batch of 4 cups. 

Note: You can make many variations. The original recipe has 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and a teaspoon of vanilla with no maple. You can sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top. You can use banana pudding, or chocolate pudding and add chocolate chips, etc! 
Here is a link to some of the variations: Armchair World    Enjoy!!

5 comments:

  1. I remember that bread being a real treat. I haven't had it in a lot of years! Great tip about keeping it in the freezer!

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  2. The amish friendship bread is so good, and I love the idea of freezing the extra portions, I have to remember that! I'm definitely going to have to resurrect this recipe, I haven't made it in forever! Thanks for the reminder of a great and easy treat!

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  3. I'm going to have to try this one.

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  4. Ah! A blue ribbon at the Minnesota state fair! That is way impressive. My hubby is a Minnesotan, and I've been to the fair several times. But I'm confused as to why this bread isn't served on a stick.;)

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  5. Floozy, good one! deep fried on a stick maybe.

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