Amish Sourdough Bread

Sourdough loaves and rolls

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  • Total: 2 hrs 40 mins
  • Prep: 2 hrs
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Yield: Five loaves (50 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
17 Calories
1g Fat
3g Carbs
0g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: Five loaves (50 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 17
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 162mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 0g
Calcium 8mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Amish sourdough bread, also known as friendship bread, is traditionally gifted. You can make a variety of breads using this Amish sourdough starter recipe as the base recipe. The starter mix works in place of standard baking yeast and can be used to make several kinds of yeast-based breads, like Amish cinnamon bread.

As the baker, you would keep 1 cup of starter mix to create a new cycle of bread making; you can then give the remaining 3 cups to friends so they can make their own. One cup of starter typically makes a standard loaf of bread. Starter bread is also known as mother bread.

There is a timing element to making and sharing Amish friendship bread. The usual cycle is based on the addition of 1 cup of sugar, flour, and milk every five days. Then the bread is baked and another starter is shared on the 10th day. The 10-day cycle, in all, generates 5 cups of starter mix, which must be used to either bake a new loaf of bread, share with a friend, or start a new cycle.

According to tradition, you don't have to wait 10 days before using 1 cup of starter; it can be utilized as a yeast substitute at any time. But using it on earlier days may result in smaller quantities of starter at the end of the cycle.

In order to prevent starter mix from running out, it is customary to feed the starter (with milk, sugar, and flour) before removing a cup to use. A five-day baking cycle feeds the starter every fifth day and uses the resulting mixture on that day to bake a loaf or two of bread. The leftover mixture is then used to begin the next five-day fermentation cycle.

Intimidated? Don't be. Learn more about traditional sourdough starter, or try our absolute beginner-friendly bread recipe.


  • 1 package active dry yeast (1/4 ounce)
  • 1 1/2 cups water (110 to 115 F)
  • 6 to 7 cups flour (divided)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Dissolve the yeast in warm water.

  3. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of the flour, salt, sugar, and sourdough starter.

  4. Combine 2 1/2 cups of the flour and the baking soda; stir into the sourdough mixture. Keep adding in as much of 1/2 to 1 cup flour as you can, mixing with a spoon. 

  5. On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6 to 8 minutes total).

  6. Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Turn once to grease the top and cover with a clean cloth or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in volume. 

  7. Punch down and divide the dough in half. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. 

  8. Grease two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans or one large baking sheet for 6-inch round loaves. Shape dough into the desired shape. Make X-shaped slashes with a sharp knife. Cover and let rise about 1 hour, or until doubled. 

  9. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Bake loaves 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

  10. Serve and enjoy.


Starter mix can be frozen and used later, with the new cycle beginning after the starter mix has thawed. Additionally, it can be slowed to about half the normal fermentation rate when it is stored in the refrigerator instead of at room temperature. 

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