Amish Friendship Bread – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

low carb Amish Friendship BreadThis recipe goes out to Eliza, who very sweetly asked me if I thought I could recreate Amish Friendship Bread in a low carb fashion.  Of course, she asked me this back in September and here it is almost December and I am only just posting it.  But she makes it for friends and family every year for the holidays and I can only hope I am getting this to her in time so that she can make this low carb Amish Friendship Bread recipe this year.  Because the original is anything but low carb, gluten-free, or even remotely healthy and Eliza has converted many of her friends and family into low carb supporters (go Eliza!).  This year, she wants to give them the same great flavour and texture, but in a much healthier package.  How could I resist such a plea???

Gluten Free Amish Friendship Bread

I will tell you that this recipe presented me with a little challenge.  I’ve only had Amish Friendship Bread once before, when a friend gave me some starter and the instructions.  I was nonplussed, as I’d never heard of the stuff and I wasn’t exactly sure how it would pan out, sitting on my counter for 10 days.  But it made a lovely quick bread, and I did my duty and passed on the starter to three more friends.  Since it was rather laborious for a quick bread recipe and I’d given away all my starter, I never made it again.  What I remember was a very moist, VERY sweet bread with lots of cinnamon.  When Eliza approached me about it, I initially thought it would be a snap.  But then I thought about the starter.  I obviously didn’t have any, and if I did, it wouldn’t be low carb or gluten free.  And what was the point of the starter anyway?  As far as I could tell, it was mostly a way to require friends to bake and pass it on, chain-letter style.

low carb amish friendship bread

So I gave some thought to the purpose behind having a bag of milk, flour and sugar sitting on your counter for 10 days.  Besides having to massage it daily, the milk would obviously sour and give a tangy sourdough flavour to the resulting loaf.  Well, milk is going to sour when left that long no matter what it’s mixed with, so it could easily be made with low carb ingredients.  I asked Eliza whether she cared whether she had starter left over to pass on, and she said she never did as she used all of her starter for loaves to give as gifts.  That made my life easier!  And in typical Carolyn fashion, waiting 10 days to make the bread didn’t appeal to me, so I decided to see if I could jump start the souring process with a little lemon juice.  This helped me cut the counter-sitting time in half.  I am hopeful this will suit Eliza as she wants to get a jump on making these for Christmas!

I didn’t make this in a way where you could pass on the starter to friends, because I really wanted to concentrate on getting the taste and texture right.  Maybe someday, when I have huge amounts of time on my hands, I will figure out how to do that.  In the meantime, this bread came out very moist and rich, with a cinnamon-y crust from the topping melting on during baking.  My memory of eating the real thing is rather faint, so I can’t guarantee it’s exactly the same, but it was delicious and I hope Eliza will agree.

Amish Friendship Bread – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

Yield: 16 servings

Ingredients

    Starter:
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup Swerve Sweetener or granulated erythritol
  • Bread:
  • 2 cups almond flour, divided
  • 1 cup Swerve Sweetener or granulated erythritol, divided
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used grapeseed)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 small box sugar-free vanilla pudding mix
  • 1/3 cup unflavoured whey protein powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • Topping:
  • 1 tbsp Swerve Sweetener or granulated erythritol
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. For the starter, combine whole milk and lemon juice in a medium bowl and let thicken 10 minutes.
  2. Add almond flour and granulated erythritol and stir to combine.
  3. Transfer to a ziploc bag and remove as much air as possible. Then seal bag and allow to sit on counter for 3 days (see notes), massaging to mix ingredients 2 to 3 times a day.
  4. On the 4th day, preheat oven to 325F and grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan very well.
  5. Pour starter into a large bowl. Add one cup almond flour, 1/2 cup granulated erythritol, oil, eggs and vanilla extract and mix well. Set aside.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining 1 cup almond flour, remaining 1/2 cup granulated erythritol, vanilla pudding mix, whey protein powder, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  7. Add dry ingredients to starter mixture and stir until fully combined. Pour into prepared loaf pan.
  8. For the topping, in a small bowl, whisk together granulated erythritol and cinnamon. Sprinkle over batter in pan.
  9. Bake 50-60 minutes or until loaf is cooked through and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find that your loaf is browning too quickly, cover with foil for the last 15 to 20 minutes of baking.
  10. *Please note that you are trying to sour the milk in this recipe. If you have concerns regarding the safety of doing so, simply add 2 more tbsp of lemon juice and continue directly to next step. It may not be as "authentic" but it should still taste great.

Notes

Serves 16. Each serving has 8.6 g of carbs and 3.1 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 5.5 g.

*Please note that you are trying to sour the milk in this recipe. If you have concerns regarding the safety of doing so, simply add 2 more tbsp of lemon juice and continue directly to next step. It may not be as "authentic" but it should still taste great.

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Comments

  1. Looks great to me! I need to get back into bread baking right away.

  2. This look so hearty and delightful!

  3. Brilliant!

  4. I love friendship bread!! Can’t believe you made it low carb! Awesome!!

  5. Wow!! Well done Carolyn!

  6. It’s not hard eating better with you on my side! On my to do list!

  7. Love this! Friendship bread is a tradition in my extended family but I never have the patience to make it myself. I also don’t like how sweet it is. . .so this is perfect!

  8. Gorgeous photos!! Love that you made this vintage recipe. There are just some things that can’t be improved upon!

  9. Hi Carolyn!

    Thank you for doing this! I never would have thought of using grapeseed oil as a replacement. I love you for doing this and can’t wait to share this with my family. My husband is looking forward to this new version, as he always blames me for the extra 5 pounds over the holidays from snacking on the original recipe, each year ;) When I told him that I had contacted you to convert to a low-carb version, he was on-board!

    This meets everything that I was looking for! I can’t wait and thank you again!

    Eliza

    • I really hope it meets with your expectations! I honestly can’t remember what the original tastes like, but this is a delicious cinnamon bread, with a cinnamon-y crust from the melted topping. We loved it, so in that regard, it was a success.

      • Hi Carolyn.

        I see that I wasn’t the only one longing for this Amish bread to be converted ;)

        Thank you again! I already started my Christmas gifts and I did start a starter without the lemon juice. I wanted to see what it would taste like if it fermented the whole 10 days, but using the almond flour and preparing as you have it.

        I will let you know how it turns out ;) You’ve inspired me, as always :)

        Eliza

  10. I remember th first time I saw a recipe for Amish Friendship Bread. It was a narrow, long strip to the side of the recipe section of our local newspaper. I cut it out and stil have it..albeit tattered. I love your GF, Low-Carb version of it, and I especially love the starter method in the zip-lock bag. Brilliant!

  11. looks great, I just love amish friendship bread and the fact that when you make it you are baking for weeks and weeks :)

  12. Amish bread has been on my list for a while but since no one around me bakes with yeast I never made it. I think I’m going to do as Eliza, bake all the breads and give them to friends instead of giving them a cup of starter

  13. This bread looks incredibly moist, warm, sweet, cozy… All I really want is a huge bite!

  14. I would like to try this recipe with butter and my homemade dried cherries and pineapple for a fruit cake! I’m not sure about the cinnamon for that. Is the pudding mix the instant or cook kind? Thanks for the recipe!

  15. What fun – I love seeing recipes adapted by you!

  16. I have never had Amish Friendship bread and noted Eliza’s enthusiastic comment so I think your bread has made you a new friend! And isn’t a new friend better than a bag of starter you can pass along? I think so. Lovely effort my friend.

  17. I am concerned about the sugar free pudding mix used in this recipe. Most of these mixes contain Splenda which is an absolute no-no.

    • I am not a fan of Splenda either, but this was a requested recipe and I chose to make it for my reader. I think it doesn’t hurt once in a very long while, but to each his own. You could skip it…it would probably still be very good.

  18. Oh wow. In my high-carb vegetarian days, I made an Amish loaf at least once a week. It was tremendously addictive.

    I have been experimenting with fermenting low-carb batters like this lately (e.g. yeast waffles), so this bread method comes at a great time for me. I just hope I can resist the urge to eat entire loaves of this at a time…!

  19. I love your recipes, and try out a lot of them, to my delight, but this one has me a bit worried. Sugar is a preservative, and when I have baked sugar free goods I find they need to be refrigerated or they go bad MUCH quicker than baked goods with sugar. Is it safe to use a mixture with milk on the counter, unrefrigerated for 4 days? Sugar would cause alcohols to form and that would make it safe to eat. Couldn’t there be a potentially high bacteria count in this mixture? I wouldn’t risk this one. I do love the idea though. I advise caution.

    • My whole family ate this without any problems. Keep in mind that it is baked after the milk has soured. But you could also simply double the lemon juice to get a sour taste more quickly and then make it, if you like. I was trying to stay true to the original recipe.

    • One other thought…sugar is a preservative for some things, but it also encourages bacterial growth, not inhibits it, particularly in a moist environment. So I don’t think that the original amish bread starter would be any safer! :) But there are work-arounds here, like souring the milk more in the beginning and skipping the counter phase.

  20. Wow, I can’t believe you were able to take that bread (which we love) and make it low-carb friendly. It looks and sounds amazing. One thing that the recipes for regular Amish friendship bread does now is use cinnamon sugar in place of flour for preparing the pans. It gives the sides and bottom the same yumminess as the top.

  21. I love your variation!

  22. Suzanne Garner says:

    I am pretty new to your blog, but I am not new to type II diabetes. I, too, had gestational diabetes that later became type II. Discovering your blog is one of the best things that has happened to me! I wish my doctor could have told me about your blog. I will, instead, tell him about it! And I will tell my friends with and without diabetes. I have often felt deprived of sweets since becoming diabetic. Your recipes have changed that. My non-diabetic husband is crazy about them too. So far, I have made Amish friendship bread twice and tonight I baked the mini loaves with cranberries and lime. I have my eye on the almond coated pound cake next. I’m going to look at entrees and and breakfast food too. Probably will try category! Thanks so much for helping me and others like me! My quality of life is better because of you!

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