Saturday, April 11, 2015

Herman the German Friendship Cake by Bureaucrat

About a fortnight ago, Ms G introduced to her friend, a German, called Herman.  As a friend, Herman is a bit pale, bubbly in personality and kinda smelt bad... really, really bad... like bile and yeast mixed together.

If you haven't met Herman before, he is a sourdough starter.  While I love sourdough bread I have to admit that I've never cooked with it before.  Nor did I know what sourdough actually looked like.  All mystery about sourdough was revealed when Ms G presented to me a takeaway container of Herman - a gooey, gluggy, flubby, bubbly, pale looking thing that reeked.

Over the next 10 days, I fed and nurtured Herman and kept him warm.  I stirred him around to incorporate air and every few days it was feeding time with a cup each of flour, sugar and milk.  As the days past, Herman grew and grew and so did that distinctive sour smell.  But I was determined to see this through to the end and make something tasty out of Herman.

And on day 10 it was time to cook with Herman.  I went with the traditional Herman friendship cake recipe but tweaked it ever so slightly by replacing the white sugar with soft brown sugar and malt and omitted the salt and raisins.


  • 1 cup of Herman
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of malt syrup
  • 2 cups plain flour 
  • 2/3 cup of cooking oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 cooking apples cut into chunks
  • 2 heaped tsp cinnamon
  • 2 heaped tsp baking powder
Mix everything together and pour into a greased baking tin. For the topping, sprinkle a quarter of cup of brown sugar and a quarter of cup of melted butter. Bake for 45 minutes at 170-180C.

Herman is still bubbling away

So did it taste nice?  Surprisingly, it did!  I was a bit dubious as to whether something that smelt so bad could taste nice.  You can't taste any of the sourness. Instead Herman gives the cake a nice moistness and fluffy texture.

There's plenty of advice if you want to create your own Herman sourdough starter.  And as the name implies, once you've let Herman into your life, it's part and parcel that you pass some of him onto your friends.

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