Herman – The Friendship Cake

I have been handed Herman!

Herman is a friendship cake – well actually it’s the starter for a cake. A bit like a sour dough starter but sweet.

Herman was handed to me at the school gates today by my friend Sarah.  When she sent me a text last week asking if I would like to try doing a Herman Friendship Cake I wondered if she had spent the afternoon drinking and whether I should pick her children up from school for her. But then I googled it and it turns out that this is a cake with its origins in the Amish community when a starter would be handed around the community to feed others (and Sarah hadn’t been drinking).

I love the idea of the starter making its way through the community, friend by friend by friend.

My Herman has been decanted from his lunch box and is sitting in a large bowl covered with a tea towel.  I have to stir him and feed him a couple of times in the next ten days and then I get to make the cake and spread the love that is Herman.

I will keep you posted.

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13 responses to “Herman – The Friendship Cake

  1. Help, I can’t keep up! Is it your New Year Resolution?? I guess I’ll need to do haggis now – followed by cheesecake maybe? Need to get busy in the kitchen – I still have my Ballymaloe beast lurking in the fridge.

  2. Oooh that looks fun. I guess each person can add their own flavourings and make a unique cake. Nice idea.

  3. Cannot wait to see the wonderful Herman in the flesh, as it were! In the meantime I’ll settle for some of that yummy sounding bread in your previous post – it sounds quite healthy, as bread goes!

  4. This sounds very familiar. A woman I used to work with did something similar. I think she called it Monkey Bread.

  5. Tracy is right—we call it Monkey Bread, Friendship Bread. Fun that it’s named Herman! It’s been years since I’ve made this, and it is quite good.

  6. Ha, I have Herman hiding right here in my freezer. I wrote half a post about “Saving Herman” about six months ago and never finished it. Have to say, he was in very poor health when he came to visit me and the medication that was advised was baking powder. Baking powder? So I tried to get him to be a healthy friendship cake and turning him into a real leaven starter. Only thing is I forgot about him until now – oops!

  7. Now that is a fabulous idea! Loving it, can’t wait to see how he progresses.

  8. Am I missing something? If you cook him on day 2 – the day after arrival would it be the same as day 10 or even day 4 when you can divide into 2 instead of 4. Yes I understand the sharing thing, but if you are a “Billy no Mates” who do you pass it on to?

    • Hi Sue, THis is the first time I have cooked a herman so I was careful to put up the instructions as they were handed to me. However, I am going to cook my second Herman today and this will be day 5 (after adding more stuff yesterday) so I have half the mixture, so I will only be splitting Herman in two and then adding half the ingredient list to make a smaller cake. My Herman has been going a while as I know it goes back three people so I know it will have enough wild yeasts in it. If I was starting from making my own starter then I would probably leave it for the full ten days. Although having said that this isn’t like a normal sourdough starter which is entirely reliant on wild yeasts as the starter includes easybake or dried active yeast. So I say if your mixture is bubbling then go for it. My maths is not that fantastic, but if you were starting it on day two, then I would use all of Herman and divide the ingredients that you are going to add by two. If you are going to start on day five, then Herman needs to be split into two and the remaining ingredients divided by two. By doing it early from your own starter it will probably not have the tang that is associated with a wild yeast starter, but as that is not particularly noticeable (or at least it wasn’t to me) then I shouldn’t think it will make a great deal of difference.
      I hope that makes sense and if anyone reading this can add to the discussion or thinks I might be wrong please do let us know.
      Good luck Sue, I hope you enjoy Herman. Let me know what you decide on and how it turns out.

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