The holidays will be here before you know it and this is the perfect time to get started. With just a few variations, Amish Friendship Bread becomes a delicious Christmas present. And, it's your choice of how dramatic you want to be. For me, the standard recipe has generally produced three standard loaves of bread or one large bundt bread. To get a head start on Christmas, why not make two loaves and 3 pint-sized canned breads from a single recipe. Before long, you will have plenty of Hostess gifts ready for all those holiday parties on your calendar. Before sealing the jar, adding a quarter cup of rum or brandy will ensure that your gift will keep indefinitely. Without the rum./brandy, your gift will have a shelf life of between 3 to 6 months without any loss of flavor. Keep in a cool, dark, part of your pantry or on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator.
Give It Simple - Give It Grand
The best thing about Amish Friendship Bread is that you have the option of deciding just how simple or how grand you want your gift to be! For a quick gift, give the bread, alone. If you know the recipient enjoys cooking, include the instructions on how to make their own starter and bread, or, to make it even more personal, include a cup of your own starter. To include your own starter would mean that you have some available. I generally have one or two containers of starter in the freezer for those times when I want a rest from baking the bread.
The ingredients variations are endless and you are only limited by your imagination. Use cranberries, blueberries, bananas, raisins, nuts, apples, combinations of both -- it's your choice. For this particular recipe, I used a combination of blueberries and grated fresh apple. Unless I know for certain that my recipients have no allergies, I won't add nuts. My spices were a blend of cinnamon, mace, and ginger. One thing I did do different from what I normally do -- I actually sifted the all-purpose pre-sifted flour, so the texture of these loaves is closer to cake than the denser bread texture. When I gift these, I will add a package of home-made fruity sauce, as well. If planning to add liquor to the bread, don't sift the flour. Grease and lightly flour inside of canning jar, and fill only half-full. Bread may rise just above tops but will settle during cooling.
Ten minutes before bread is finished baking, place jar rings and covers in boiling water. Hand-tighten ring. You'll know jar is sealed when lids "pop."
Ready for Gifting
You can make the jar as simple or as fancy as you want. Add a stick-on bow... a ribbon... a little holiday-print collar... print your own label... the choices are endless. Create a 'bread' gift basket with your canned bread, a pretty new loaf pan, a box of 1 gallon plastic bags, and other items that will help another cook continue the tradition of sharing Amish Friendship Bread.