Herman the Second!

Those of you who have been following my progress with Herman may have noticed that I haven’t posted about Herman for over a week now. This is because Herman and I had a bit of a disagreement in the week. I was trialling another new flavour; Marmalade and Pecan which as usual I was quite excited about. I think I have said before that I am not that keen on nuts in cake, I don’t know why I just like a nice soft cake and to have crunchy bits in it sort of spoils it for me. Anyway, this cake was for my husband, it being Fathers Day this weekend and I thought he would absolutely love the Marmalade Pecan combination.

I measured the ingredients for the basic cake, added 1/3 jar of marmalade and 100g pecan nuts and put this in a large loaf tin and into the oven. Covered it over with foil at 30 minutes and then checked at 1 hour to see if it was cooked. It wasn’t! What’s more, the middle had already sunk even though I hadn’t moved it or taken it out of the oven and the edges were blackened and burned to a crisp! I put it back in for 10 more minutes, then, as it seemed cooked I took it out to let it cool on the rack. I then came to take the cake out of its tin and it just collapsed into a heap on the rack. At this point I did taste a bit and got a mouthful of nut and very odd tasting cake so promptly tipped the rest of the cake in the bin!

I did feel so guilty after and feel like I should have given poor Herman a chance but on this occasion I was in no mood to be nice!

After a lot of wondering why my Herman cakes keep sinking and often burn I have come to the conclusion that there is too much sugar in the mix (making it burn) and also not enough flour (making it sink). At the same time I remembered that I had bought a book (secondhand off amazon) that I had originally got out of the library and was thrilled to see it had a recipe for Herman the German Friendship Cake in it so had to have my own copy. Since it arrived through the post I haven’t really had a chance to look through it so thought I should compare notes on the recipe that was going round in the early 1990s to this one that is going round 20 years later (yes, I can’t believe the early 90s was 20 years ago either!).

The recipe from the book is different so I decided to remove one Herman from his bowl and start again with this new version (I have kept a bit of the old one too to compare notes). Below are photos of the book and the recipe for Herman the German Friendship cake.

The Bread Book – Linda Collister & Anthony Blake (First Published 1993)


German Friendship Cake


Recipe for how to start off a German Friendship Cake and the recipe for an Apple, Cinnamon and Sultana version of the Friendship Cake


Original Herman in its bowl on the left and Herman the Second on the right just being mixed together – 280g plain flour, one sachet of easy blend yeast and 455ml water


The two different Hermen inhabiting their different bowls – this pic is for me really – Old Herman = Red Bowl New Herman = Blue Bowl



Herman the Second three hours after I have made the starter – looking good and smelling very yeasty…..mmmmmmm


As you can see from this recipe there are differences from this and the one that I have. There is slightly more flour and slightly less sugar in the recipe from The Bread Book. Also Herman goes days without needing to be stirred and he is fed on Days 1 and 5 but is not baked until Day 10! I don’t like to assume things but I have a feeling the instructions for Herman that I originally received have been Americanised as many of the measurements are in cups. I will have to wait a whole two weeks before I can try out the recipe from the book but I have a feeling that the results may be better than the ones that I have been getting from my Herman experiments and hopefully I will end up with much more of a cake like result rather than a rather sticky pudding like result.

Which version of Herman are you using? Is it the measuring by cup version?

For now,


This entry was published on June 17, 2012 at 6:56 pm. It’s filed under Herman, Recipes and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Herman the Second!

  1. Bridget Leyden on said:

    Hi Catherine, I quite like the cup measurements as it seems so simple to just scoop up cups and bung them in a bowl – I like not being too precise in my baking! But I agree that Herman is too sweet. I have been doing the starter mostly as suggested in my recipe: 1 cup of each flour, milk and sugar. I have been keeping it in the fridge and adding to it every few days after I have used some to make cake. I seldom stir it in between times. Sometimes I add a little less than a cup of sugar. Where I really cut down on the sugar is when I mix up the cake though. Sometimes I add no extra sugar, or maybe half a cup. I have been mostly making muffins with Herman. I made some with rhubarb and apple which were tasty, and also camp coffee and whirred up hazelnuts that worked well. I think herman tastes good as a nutty mix, I have also substituted flour for ground almonds. I iced some of them with soft brown sugar and lemon juice (rather than icing sugar), an idea I got from the Cranks recipe book. I enjoy reading your posts. I hope your new Herman works well. Bridget x

    • Hi Bridget, Thank you for your message, I have been looking at a lot of bread recipes to use my Herman in but many of them only have a tablespoon of sugar in or a few tablespoons of another sweetener and it is for the breads that I really need to measure what is in the Herman starter mix.
      I have been doing the same as you, just taking some Herman when I need to and topping it up when I think it needs more food but mine is still out on the side. Mine doesn’t get mixed every day either.
      I have rhubarb in my fridge waiting to be put into a cake and a rhubarb and apple version does sound good, I’ve also seen other cakes with rhubarb and strawberry which also sounds exciting. My mum used to make coffee cakes using Camp coffee, I will have a go as I love coffee flavoured cakes.
      Thank you for giving me so many good ideas, as always I will let you know how they turn out. Catherine x

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