NOTE: Due to the popularity of this post and my interest in Herman I have created a page dedicated entirely to Herman the German Friendship Cake which includes frequently asked questions and links to all the Herman recipes I have trialed.
A couple of weeks ago now a friend gave me a starter for a sourdough cake named Herman. Talking to a lot of people this was something they had done as kids but even though we grew up baking we never had a Herman.
Herman arrived with his own set of instructions (see below), for feeding and ‘exercising’ and he has now become a part of our family. This cake is great for the kids as they are able to watch Herman bubble up and grow each day, are able to be involved in the mixing each day and the making of the actual cake. The first time I split Herman I gave two cuts to friends and baked the cake into the original Apple and Cinnamon Cake from the recipe and it was absolutely amazing, moist and very tasty with the cinnamon just right and the subtle flavour of vanilla behind the apple.
Since receiving Herman I have become really interested in the sourdough mixture and what else I can do with it. It is a very active mix and will expand to twice the size within 24 hours making me think that there is a lot of yeast in the mix. I will, over the next few months be experimenting with other variations of cake and may even attempt a sweet bread if I can work out the measurements to actually make the bread dough….I can probably count the number of times I have made bread from scratch on two hands so am a bit unsure of this but will give it a go.
Here are Hermans instructions:
German Friendship Cake
Hello, my name is Herman, I am a sourdough cake.
I’m supposed to sit on your work top for 10 days.
You CANNOT put me in the fridge or I will die. If I stop bubbling, I am dead.
Day 1. When you get Herman put him in a large mixing bowl or container and cover loosely with a tea towel or cling film.
Day 2. Stir well
Day 3. Stir well
Day 4. Herman is hungry. Add the following ingredients, stir well and cover again.
115g/4oz plain flour (1 cup)
225g/8oz granulated sugar (1 cup)
225ml/8oz milk (1 cup)
Day 5. Stir well
Day 6. Stir well
Day 7. Stir well
Day 8. Stir well
Day 9. Herman is hungry again! Add the same ingredients as day 4 and stir well.
Divide into four equal portions and give three away to friends with a copy of these instructions or keep one if you want to start a new batch.
The remaining Herman stays with you to be baked the following day.
Day 10. Herman is very hungry. Stir well and add the following:
225g/8oz sugar (1 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
225g/8oz plain flour (2 cups)
2 heaped tsp cinnamon
2 heaped tsp baking powder
175ml/6oz cooking oil (2/3 cup)
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 cooking apples cut into chunks
1 cup raisins
Other options include: Pineapple, cherries, chocolate chips, coconut etc.
Mix everything together and put into a large greased baking tin. Sprinkle with 50g/2oz brown sugar and 50g/2oz melted butter. Bake for 45 minutes at 180°C Gas Mark 4.
When cold cut into fingers. This cake freezes well and is also delicious warm as a dessert with cream or ice-cream.
Last night I made a cut of the Herman mix into a Toffee and Pecan cake, but that is a post for another day.
Have you ever had a Herman? Does anyone know any more than me about making bread? Any advice greatly appreciated! If anyone wants a cut of my Herman just let me know.
Hope you are enjoying your long weekend so far,