A while ago I was given a Herman friendship cake. I had never heard of this phenomenon before (much to the surprise of my erstwhile friend) and she explained to me that Herman was a German ‘living’ cake that you nurture and then share/pass to/inflict upon some other friends whilst you bake up a bit of yours into a nice cake for tea.
I duly followed the instructions and rather enjoyed the smell of yeast that filled the kitchen and the bubbling ectoplasm they lay beneath the tea towel…(do try not to get it ON the tea towel cos it’s a bugger to get off). Come the end of my 10 days I looked at the mixture and could think of not one soul in the vicinity who I could pass the ‘honour’ on to. So I donated Herman to the bin. Forgetting to save the bit that I was supposed to bake.
Since then, Herman has come back to haunt me….people have actually exclaimed ‘You killed Herman?’. Erm…yes. If throwing some gloop in the bin constitutes the murder of some cake mix then, yes. I killed Herman.
To make up for this, and perhaps because I’m bored, I feel the need to resurrect Herman the German and at the very least bake him up and scoff him. It is his destiny to be eaten and passed on and not to line my wheelie bin. Fear not, I am not resurrecting him as such…more reincarnating him….from some ingredients in my cupboard.
Herman Cake Recipe
To make a Herman cake from scratch you will need to dissolve one packet of active dry yeast (or 2¼tsp) in half a pint of warm water for 10 mins then stir. In a large bowl carefully mix together with 140g plain flour and 225g caster sugar. Gently stir in 50ml of warm milk and cover the bowl with a clean tea towel. Leave in a cool place (but NOT the fridge else you’ll kill him) for 24hrs.
Then start from day 1 of the official Herman Instructions below (these are what you give to your friends with a portion of Herman and a wry smile). Then run before they ask questions.
Official Herman Cake Instructions
Hello, my name is Herman.
I am a sourdough cake. I’m supposed to sit on your worktop for 10 days without a lid on.
You CANNOT put me in the fridge or I will die. If I stop bubbling, I am dead.
Day1: Put me in a large mixing bowl and cover loosely with a tea towel.
Day 2: Stir well
Day 3: Stir well
Day 4: Herman is hungry. Add 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar and milk. Stir well.
Day 5: Stir well
Day 6: Stir well
Day 7: Stir well
Day 8: Stir well
Day 9: Add the same as day 4 and stir well. Divide into 4 equal portions and give away to friends with a copy of these instructions. Keep the fourth portion.
Day 10: Now you are ready to make the cake. Stir well and add the following:
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
160ml vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 cooking apples peeled, cored & cut into chunks
100g walnuts/almonds (optional)
2 heaped tsp cinnamon
2 heaped tsp baking powder
Mix everything together and put into a large greased baking tin.
Sprinkle with 50g brown sugar and 50ml melted butter. Bake for 45 minutes at 180°C.
Then cover in foil and bake for a further 25 minutes to make sure Herman is cooked in the middle.
Cut up when cold. The cake freezes well if you’re keen….
Serve as is or with ice cream!
I have successfully completed my Herman cycle and made the cake (minus the raisins). I had to cook it for longer than expected and have altered the recipe accordingly. It wasn’t very cakey – more of a pudding and had I any ice-cream to go with it (I love Haagen-Dazs vanilla) it would have been even better. As it was, it was nice tasting but not, perhaps, something I’d rush to do again….
It was fun doing it though and over on For Bella and Will there are some great alternate recipes!