Amish Science Experiment: Pancakes!


April 20, 2010 by skwishface

If you’re a casual foodie like me – as in, casual to the point of getting a little squirmy about referring to yourself as a foodie – then at some point in your life someone will delight in handing you a bag of mysterious goop and a list of instructions. This is Amish Friendship Bread starter, and it will soon own you.

It’s a little colony of yeast that grow and bubble and ferment happily, and enslave you to their will. Every ten days, you must bake bread. And on that tenth day, you must divide the colony into parts so that each little mini-colony can go on to grow and bubble and ferment and enslave someone else.

Unless, of course, you’ve already given mini-colonies to the only people you know who won’t punch you in the nose for giving it to them. Then you’re stuck with baggies of yeast every ten days. Growing masses of micro-organisms that sit placidly on your kitchen counter and give you nightmares about waking up one morning to find that they have burst forth from their plastic baggie confines to take over the minds of your friends and neighbors, turning them into zombies that serve an unknowable global domination agenda.

Don’t look at me like that. It could totally happen. There’s documented proof.

So I’ve experimented and found alternatives to the same old sugary-cinnamony result of following the exact instructions for making your Amish Friendship Bread. One alternative deals with the starter at Day 10. But then what do you do with all the little baggies you have left over?

You make pancakes!

Amish Friendship Pancakes
1 baggie of Amish Friendship Bread starter, day 1-5
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon (or more)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

(For the record, I have no idea how you can make your own Amish Friendship Bread starter. My little yeast pets were given to me by a coworker. The internet has some solid theories, though.)

(If you want to use a baggie of starter that’s day 6-10 – ie: it’s been “fed” it’s day 6 meal already, then just double everything else in the recipe.)


Okeedokee, so first we start with the baggie of Amish Friendship Bread starter.

Your many bretheren cannot save you! Muahahaha!

Pour it out of the baggie and into a non-metal bowl. Use only non-metal utensils.

No, I don't know why.

Then start adding in the wet ingredients, stirring as you go. We’ll deal with the dry stuff later.

Milk! Whole, if you know what's good for ya.

Butter! Real, if you can forgive yourself.

Eggs! Brown sugar! Witty comment, if you can think of one.

Almost forgot the vanilla. Don't hate.

A word about this ban on non-metal utensils. I don’t own a non-metal whisk. In fact, most of my kitchen utensils are metal. So I’m stuck stirring this mess with a rubber spatula thingy. Which makes me cuss, because eggs have no respect for you if you can’t whisk ’em into shape.


Once all the wet ingredients are mixed, it’s time to dump in the dry stuff. For those keeping track at home, that’s …

Flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt.

Why divide up the wet and dry ingredients like this? For texture!

Mixing up the wet stuff, then adding the dry stuff, and then stirring until mostly combined will give you light and fluffy pancakes. Over-stirring will make your pancakes tough and chewy. Which are fine qualities in shoe leather, but not in breakfast foods.

So dump in your dry ingredients, take up your non-metal utensil, and give it about a dozen turns around the bowl. There will be lumps. If you’re like me, those lumps will make you a little sad.


Making pancakes is apparently an emotional rollercoaster for me.

Ignore the lumps, though it be difficult. They’ll disappear on their own soon enough.

Now, to consider the cooking up of these here pancakes. I happen to have a cast-iron grill pan that has a reversible flat griddle side. I adore it. I use it often, and then clean it, and rub it down with oil, and love it, and pet it, and name it George. If you don’t have a griddle, never fear. Any flat cooking surface will do. Skillets, pans, large soup pots, pizza pans (ah, college), etc. Just so long as there’s a flat space and it can sit on your stovetop to get nice and medium-hot.

Then you need to grease it up but good.

Yes, more butter. Because I like food that tastes good.

Then pour on the pancake batter. How much you use is entirely up to you. I tend to use about 3/4 cup for each pancake. Just pour ’em on and let ’em sit for a bit.

Here’s where the Amish Friendship-ness makes things a little odd. Common wisdom in pancake-making is to flip when the pancake starts to get a little dry around the edges and bubbles start to form on the top.

Right about here-ish.

But! We are dealing with yeasty goodness. You have to give the little critters time to do their thing.

So ignore every instinct that screams in you to flip the pancake now! Flip it! OMG FLIP! …. Take a breath … count slowly to ten …. and then you’ll see this start happening:

What the - ?

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Curiouser and curiouser ...

Dozens upon dozens of tiny little air bubbles, courtesy of your Amish Friendship yeast pets. NOW you may flip it over. I don’t have a picture of the flipped pancake because I’m a ninny who forgets things. Trust that the pancake was flipped and cooked for a few more minutes bubbly-side-down.

The result of those bubbles is a fascinating landscape full of butter and syrup catching potential.

Yes, my griddle was a bit hot and the pancake is a bit burned. My imperfections keep me up at night.

The end result of this recipe is slender, fluffy, light-as-air pancakes full of little pockmarks just waiting for a chance to catch every drop of butter and syrup you care to drench them in.

This is the only reason my Amish Friendship colony is still around – these pancakes have become my favorites, and I don’t care who knows it.



2 thoughts on “Amish Science Experiment: Pancakes!

  1. Irene Partridge says:

    Hi Cooking Diva:

    Love the way you write, you must be a hoot to know. I will definitely use one of the hundreds of “gooey” bags from the freezer to try these pancakes. My new batch is bubbling as we speak and next week I’ll probably use the whole batch for bread and cookies. This weekend, pancakes hopefully, if he’ll cook them. He cooks, I bake. They look positively sinful and 10/4 on the lovely catch places for the butter and syrup.

    You want to make your life easier, again? Get a good, long enough wooden spoon. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They come long enough for cauldron use. And they do make mixing easier than the spatula.

  2. elaina says:

    Oh thank you, thank you, its so good to know I am not the only one sweating it out every 10 days. I feel like the Little Red Hen- who will take a plastic baggie and save me from my wretched enslavement? No one ever does. Who will help me eat my bread? Everyone.

    I will now make pancakes. Forget those other people.

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