There are times when I wonder whether I just like to punish myself. You all know how I don’t like to do what everyone else is doing. I try to approach my whole life that way. When it comes to recipes, I rack my brain for days trying to think of new flavor combinations or find that new unique twist to a classic. So the day my sister announced on Facebook that she had Friendship Bread starter, I knew I was about to receive a new “pet” (yeast is alive after all). I also knew that I was NOT going to make the Friendship Bread everyone else was making. As you will see, this is where the punishing myself bit comes into play.
You may recall that this is the first summer where I did not murder all of my potted herbs. In fact, except for the dill and parsley, they all flourished, particularly the lemon balm. With such an abundance of the stuff, I decided to make lemon friendship bread using lemon balm to give it a nice freshness and that unique twist I am always searching for. And what about cutting down all that sugar and trying honey and Greek yogurt? Sure, why not?
Never having made friendship bread myself before, I was not sure what I was looking for, so when the batter came out a bit soupy, I didn’t bat an
eye and went ahead and poured it into muffin tins. Ummm…how do I describe the disaster that was the final product? Flat, gummy and tough, over half the muffin stuck to the paper liner. Think dry cornbread meets an over beaten muffin batter. Nasty, I know.
At first I thought it was my starter. When I made these muffins, I had gone a little past the “10 day” mark. I thought maybe the yeast had started to die and lose its rising power. So I gave the starter a feeding and I gave it a little boost with an added packet of commercial yeast. Wow, did that starter grow and ferment nicely over the next ten days…and still the same results!
What was I doing wrong? I searched the internet and looked up other recipes and mine seemed comparable. Then I did various google searches on “Why are my muffins coming out tough?” or “What causes gummy muffins?”. The majority of sites tried to tell me I was over mixing my batter. Ha! Not a chance, I know better than that! Searching, searching, searching…what am I doing wrong???? Then I found this AWESOME site (apparently the original went out of business so I am happy someone still has the info posted out there!). It boiled down to the batter being too wet.
Kind of a slap yourself in the head with a “Duh!” moment. I had not taken into account that both honey and the Greek yogurt add liquid to the recipe. Soupy = not good! So I swapped the yogurt out for olive oil and reduced the amount by a quarter cup, used sugar instead of honey, and cut out one egg. Needless to say they came out perfect that time around and every time since! Yippee!!
Amish Friendship Bread, a Variation – Lemon Balm Whole Wheat Muffins
Makes 2 1/2 dozen
- 1 Cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter
- 2 Eggs
- ½ Cup Olive Oil
- 1/2 Cup Milk
- 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
- ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 Cup White Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
- 1 large Package of Vanilla or Lemon Pudding
- 1 ½ Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ Teaspoon Table Salt
- ¼ Cup Lemon Balm, Finely Chopped
- 1 Large Lemon, juiced and zested
- Preheat oven to Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease muffin tins if not using liners.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift or whisk together all dry ingredients until well blended. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine your starter with all the other wet ingredients and the lemon zest.
- Gradually fold in dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until fully incorporated. Do not over mix, or you will get a nasty looking and tasting muffins.
- Fold in the lemon balm.
- Fill the tins, spooning about ¼ cup of the muffin mix for each muffin.
- Bake muffins for 15-20 minutes, until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.