Amish Friendship Bread
1 package active dry yeast
1 C. warm water
1 C. buttermilk, at room temperature
1 C. bread flour
1 T. sugar
1 C. starter
1 1/2 C. lukewarm water
2 C. bread flour
2 T. vegetable oil
1 T. sugar
2 t. salt
3 1/2 C. bread flour, divided use
1/2 t. baking soda
2 T. butter, at room temperature
Make the starter:
Dissolve the yeast in warm water in a warmed glass bowl. Whisk in the buttermilk, bread flour and sugar until smooth. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or cheesecloth. Allow the mixture to stand, at room temperature, for 5 to 7 days or until the mixture is bubbly and has a sour aroma. A clear liquid will form on the top of the starter 6 to 12 hours after the original mixing; that is normal. Stir mixture every day with a fork. After the mixture is done fermenting, cover and refrigerate until needed.
For every cup you take out of the starter, add 3/4 cup bread flour and 3/4 cup liquid, such as buttermilk, milk or water. Stir the starter and let it sit at room temperature for one day, then cover and refrigerate again. If the starter is not used for more than two weeks, scoop out 1 cup, then feed it as usual, adding 3/4 cup bread flour and 3/4 cup liquid.
Make the sponge:
Remove 1 cup of starter and place in a large bowl; allow it to come to room temperature. Add the lukewarm water, then whisk in the 2 cups bread flour until smooth. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or cheesecloth and let stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 days. The longer you leave it, the more biting and ”sour” the flavor of the sourdough bread.
Make the dough:
To the sponge add the vegetable oil, sugar and salt; mix well. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour with the baking soda; gradually add to the sponge mixture. Add remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing each time until incorporated. Note that the total 3 1/2 cups is an approximate amount of flour. When enough flour is added, the dough should be soft, springy and not sticky.
Knead dough with dough hook on electric mixer or by hand for 10 minutes. Butter or oil the top of the dough, cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise 1 hour, or until doubled, in a warm, draft-free place (about 85°F.).
Punch the dough down firmly and divide in half. Transfer one half to a floured surface and roll out to a 12 x 15-inch rectangle. Roll the dough up tightly, starting from the longest side. Seal the sides and ends by pinching the dough firmly together with your fingers. Pat and form into a smooth roll and transfer to a greased baking sheet that has been coated liberally with cornmeal. Repeat with the other half of the dough, placing the second loaf on a second sheet. Cover and allow the loaves to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled, in a warm, draft-free place.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. With a sharp knife, lightly score the top of each loaf with 4 diagonal cuts. Bake for about 40 minutes. (Finished loaves should sound hollow when tapped.) Remove loaves to a rack to cool and rub with the softened butter.
Makes 2 loaves.