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Herman the German Cake

I will admit, until my sister-in-law gave me this recipe and starter I had never heard of this cake before. A little researching and I found out it is a little bit like the cake of the sourdough world in that you are given a starter, you feed it then split it up and pass it on to friends. Claire from Things We Make & Fairyfeltmaker have been the lucky recipients of this batch of starter, though I did warn them at the time that I hadn’t made the cake and didn’t have a clue as to what it would be like! While over tea & cookies at the QUAD cafe in Derby, Claire & I christened this cake Herman the German because we love a bit of rhyming and it is thought the cake does originate from Germany.

It takes 10 days to turn the starter into something that is suitable for making a cake. When it came to making the cake I was pleasantly surprised as it was light and fluffy. Airborne yeast is used to make the dough rise.  Claire told me the Herman cakes she had tasted in the past were similar to a Mr Kipling Manor House Cake and I have to agree with her.

I’m not sure how you would go about making your own starter. The recipe I was given is quite cringy with the wording, but here it is. One thing I would say is that I did it in a 8″x8″ tin as the tin suggested seemed far too big. Within 50 min the cake was cooked perfectly. I also ditched the nuts and used 100g sultanas, 50g of glace cherries and 50g citrus peel.

Day 1 Herman is given to you. Pour him into a large bowl (not metal)
Day 2 Stir Herman 2 or 3 times with a wooden spoon (you can leave the spoon in the bowl)
Day 3 Stir herman 2 or 3 times with a wooden spoon
Day 4 Herman is hungry; give him – 200ml milk, 8oz/200g self raising flour, 10oz/250g sugar
Day 5 Stir Herman 2 or 3 times with a wooden spoon
Day 6 Stir Herman 2 or 3 times with a wooden spoon
Day 7 Stir Herman 2 or 3 times with a wooden spoon
Day 8 Stir Herman 2 or 3 times with a wooden spoon
Day 9 Herman is hungry. Give him – 200ml milk, 8oz/200g self raising flour, 10oz/ 250g sugar. Share him into 5 equal portion and give four little Herman’s away with a copy of these instructions. Keep the 5th portion for yourself.
Day 10 Herman is absolutely starving. Give him – 6oz/150g self raising flour, 3 eggs, 2 tsps cinnamon, 1 tsp baking powder, 4oz/100g finely chopped nuts, 2 grated apples or 4oz/100g of any dried fruit and cherries, 150ml sunflower oil

Now Herman likes to go to a hot resort, the oven will do. Pre heat the oven to 170oc/Gas mark 3.5. Mix everything together and pour him into a cake tin (10″ x 12″ baking tray). Leave him in the oven for about 1 hour. Herman is now ready to eat.

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Freelance food geek who's passionate about food education.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2010/10/17/herman-the-german-cake/

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