From the Friendship Bread Kitchen: Darien Gee’s Top 5 Recipes for the Holiday Season

From the Friendship Bread Kitchen: Darien Gee’s Top 5 Recipes for the Holiday Season

“It’s moist and sweet with a hint of cinnamon. It hits the spot, as unexpected kindness always does, and soon there is only one slice left.”
from Friendship Bread

Holiday baking. Warm, fragrant kitchens. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger; flour and sugar dusting the counters. Bread rising in the oven, cookies and cakes cooling on the rack. Have I got your attention yet? (smile)

When Romance at Random asked me for my top five recipes for the holiday season, I immediately thought of the town of Avalon, Illinois, the setting for my novels Friendship Bread and The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society (on sale January 29, 2013). The spirit of the season is alive and well there, that’s for sure, and they do everything with a sprinkle of sugar and a dash of cinnamon, not to mention a lot of heart.

I love these recipes because they’re not only great on the buffet, but they are easily gift-able. Each of these recipes uses one cup of Amish Friendship Bread starter (for the recipe, go here—it’s super easy to make). Because the yield for each recipe is so generous (2 large loaves or 6-8 mini loaves), you can have enough for friends, neighbors, teachers, even the UPS man. And why not pass a loaf or two to a stranger or someone who crosses your path daily but whom you’ve never had a chance to meet?

“Charlotte, I tell you, there is nothing sweeter than free Amish Friendship Bread.”
from The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society

The best part is that you can not only share the bread, but you can share the starter with others so they can make their own loaves, cakes, scones, or cookies. Because the starter keeps getting passed around, a little bit of love is shared from person to person, kitchen to kitchen. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the season.

So here they are, my top five recipes. I’m including the full recipe for my Rosemary Lemon Olive Oil Amish Friendship Bread variation. It adds a slightly tart, savory touch to an already sweet and flavorful bread. Plus it just looks gorgeous! This recipe yielded one single layer cake, four mini Bundt cakes, and one mini loaf. My neighbors were very happy!

1. Rum Raisin Amish Friendship Bread
2. Gingerbread Amish Friendship Bread
3. Stollen Amish Friendship Bread
4. Egg Nog Amish Friendship Bread
5. Rosemary Lemon Olive Oil Amish Friendship Bread

Rosemary Lemon Olive Oil Amish Friendship Bread

Makes 2 loaves


1 cup Amish Friendship Bread starter
3 eggs
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 small box lemon instant pudding
Easy Lemon Glaze

Preheat oven to 325° F (165° C).
In a large mixing bowl, add ingredients as listed.
Grease two large loaf pans.
Dust the greased pans with flour.
Pour the batter evenly into loaf or cake pans.
Bake for one hour or until the bread loosens evenly from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Drizzle with Easy Lemon Glaze and garnish with a sprig of rosemary or lemon rind.

Darien Gee is the author of Friendship Bread and The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, which goes on sale January 29, 2013 and is available for pre-order now. Visit her virtual kitchen or read an excerpt of her forthcoming novel.

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