4 June 2012

Herman The German Friendship Cake...

...the other day (well 12 days ago to be precise!) Hubby came home from work clutching an old chinese take-away carton wrapped in a plastic bag and fastened tightly with an elastic band...



...when I asked what on earth he had he just handed me a piece of paper...it was the instructions for  "Herman"...a friendship cake...which is a little like an edible chain letter...It's a sourdough cake starter, you keep it, feed it and then split it to share with others plus bake some into a variety of different style Herman Cakes...you can keep a Herman going for quite a while, the one now in my possession was a fifth generation Herman...after following the first instruction, which was to put Herman into a large bowl, I hopped onto the internet to search for more information, and more importantly, more recipe ideas for my Herman...There are loads of sites with information, ideas and recipes for Herman out there in internet land...but the ones I liked were...this one...this one...and this one...all of them have recipes to try out and the first one has a huge amount of information too...
The instructions are pretty straightforward, you basically pop Herman into a large bowl, stir him on days 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8, feed him some milk, sugar and flour on days 4 and 9 and get to split and bake him on day 10...it also had a few recipe ideas tagged on the bottom...but from what I can gather from reading around, the traditional Herman Cake involves, cinnamon and apples...

...here is our little Herman in his great big bowl...the bubbles mean all is well and he is fermenting those natural yeasts...no bubbles means not good!! You are not supposed to put a lid on him, or put him in the fridge, however several sites say that for a long weekend away, the fridge only slows him down, it doesn't kill him...a couple even said you can freeze portions of the starter for a couple of months, defrost and bring to room temperature and start over with the 10 day cycle...
...after 9 days of caring for Herman, he has grown in size...you now get to stir him up and split him into several smaller portions (some sites and instructions say 4 portions, mine said 5) and give away to friends to start over...but don't forget to keep one to bake and one to start over for yourself...my Small People wanted to keep one each plus bake one!!! This is a great way to get children involved in baking...
 ...as you can see, he is still fermenting well, and the bowl is the same one he was put into on day 1...you really do need room for him to grow!!
...so here he is split into portions, ready to share...however this day also coincided with a trip to Wales for us!!! So Herman came too!! Well 4 did, the other went in the fridge to slow him down...until we return...we shall see if the web is right, and he can be chilled for a long weekend away!! of course one of the ones we took with us will become a new one for us, one we will bake in Wales, and the other two are for Grandma and a friend...
...on day 10 we baked a Herman Cake using one of the portions...I used the basic recipe here...which adds cinnamon, apples and raisins...although I used eating apples rather than cooking ones...and I didn't top with the melted butter or sugar...
...it was an easy batter to make, pretty much all in one...and you need a large tin to bake him in...I used a 9x13inch tin, but I have seen him baked in a large round tin too...whatever you use, it needs to be quite a heavy duty tin as Herman isn't a very light cake...
...he was left to cool for a good 20 minutes before turning out to cool a little more...
...He smelled wonderful, but then I do love cinnamon and apples together!! So am possibly a bit biased!!
...texture wise Herman was almost like a 'bready' tea loaf...taste wise, delicious...the recipe says he is good warm with custard or ice-cream as a pudding, but he is equally at home as an afternoon tea or coffee cake!! I now want to try a few of the other recipes, like the Lemon Drizzle Herman, or even a Ginger Herman...the Double Chocolate Herman sounds good too...and you can even use him to make Herman Muffins, Breads, or Cinnamon Whirls...the world of Herman ideas is endless...and I think we are going to have a Herman in our kitchen for quite a while...

7 comments:

  1. Delicious! This cake looks just packed with flavour. Bookmarking X

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    1. Thanks Alida, we all liked this one and I am eager to try some other flavours...

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  2. Thankyou to Frank who introduced us to Herman 1.

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  3. Blame your husband, Sara - he mentioned that you'd started experimenting with sourdough cakes! The lemon drizzle is the favourite here at home. I found the chocolate one a touch dry (I didn't add the chocolate chunks though), but perhaps a butter icing would add some moisture.

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    1. No blame needed, Herman is now one of us and resident on the kitchen worktop...Quite fancy the lemon drizzle, may try that one next week when Herman 2 is ready :-) and thanks from me too...

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  4. Hello Sara, thank you so much for putting a link to my blog in your post, I love having my Herman to stay and it looks like you do too :) Any Herman questions just ask x

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    1. No problem, you have some fab ideas and the thought of a book of them is great!! Good luck xx

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