Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Herman, the German friendship cake

I recently saw one of the school mum's passing on a strange bowl of gloop to someone and, my curiosity piqued, I had to ask her what it was. She told me that it was a German friendship cake and that if I wanted she would "grow" me one but that it would take a week or so. 

I forgot all about it but 10 days later she duly handed over Herman with a printed sheet of instructions and off we went.
This is Herman on Day 1
Herman (as he is affectionately called) is a sour dough and you have to look after him for 10 days, stirring daily and feeding him twice before baking him. The mixture bubbles away in a very satisfying fashion ...
But why is he called a friendship cake I hear you ask? Well, before you bake him, you split him into four portions. Portion 1 gets baked, portions 2 and 3 get passed to friends and portion 4 grows you a whole new "Son of Herman".

I baked Herman today, adding apple, raisins and almond flakes and he smells and looks delicious.

I had difficulty getting him out of the tin and he broke apart but that could be that I was too impatient and didn't wait until he was fully cold or that I didn't line the tin with greaseproof paper which would have stopped this. As a result I haven't been able to get many presentable "fingers" but never mind - the crumbs taste just as delicious and that way I don't know how many pieces I have actually eaten and so don't need to feel too guilty!

The sons of Herman have already been adopted (one is being called Hector and the other's name is still to be decided) and I hope that their new families have as much fun with them as I have with Herman!!

Below are the instructions I was given.

German Friendship Cake (Herman Cake)
What to do if I give you a Herman cake.
Hi, my name is Herman and I’m a sour dough cake. I'm supposed to sit on your worktop, without a lid on, for 10 days, during which time you should feed me. 

You should not put me in the fridge or I will die. If I stop bubbling, I am dead.

Day 1: Put me in a large mixing bowl (2+ litres) and cover loosely with a tea towel or cling film.
Day 2: Stir well
Day 3: Stir well
Day 4: Now I need feeding. 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: I’m hungry again! Add the same ingredients as Day 4 and stir well. Now divide me into 4 equal portions. Give portions 2 and 3 away to friends with a copy of these instructions.
Keep portion 4 for your next cake and follow these instructions to grow me again.
Day 10: Now you are ready to make the cake:
Stir well and add the following:
1 cup sugar 
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups plain flour
2/3 cup of cooking oil
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 cooking apples cut into chunks
1 cup raisins
2 heaped tsp cinnamon
2 heaped tsp baking powder 
Optional extras like cherries, nuts, chocolate chips, coconut etc

Mix everything together and put into a large greased baking tin. Sprinkle with a 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a 1/4 cup of melted butter.
Bake for 45 minutes at 170‐ 180C.
When cold cut into finger pieces.
The cake freezes well and is also delicious warm with cream or ice‐cream.

Thanks to the website Herman the German friendship cake for also posting instructions on how to start your very own Herman.

Starting Your Own Herman
460g flour
500ml milk
230g sugar
90ml warm water
2 tbsp active dry yeast

Sprinkle 1tbsp of sugar over the warm water
Sprinkle the yeast over this and leave in a warm place for around 10 minutes, as it grows to twice its size
Mix in the milk, sugar, flour to the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon
Cover the bowl loosely with something like a tea towel
Keep in a warm place and stir. When you are ready, follow the 10 day cycle to make your Herman cake.

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