Monday, 22 April 2013

Herman - The Friendship Cake

Ten days ago I was given a cup with batter in it and a piece of paper entitled "Herman - The German Friendship Cake.  I had no idea what it was but on reading i became all warm and fuzzy to think i had a small amount of batter that had been passed down from person to person, each adding their own contribution and own amount of stirring until it came to rest with me.  As you will see in the instructions, on the 9th day Herman undergoes a division into 4 equal parts.   One to keep and bake on the 10th day and 3 parts to pass onto friends.  A split personality, one could say.  For each part will go onto to become something completely different. 

On Saturday i delivered one part to my friend Jessie in Ballan and on Sunday i gave two parts to other participants of my gardening group.  I know that Jessie's portion will take on its own flavor - perhaps she'll use her own ground flour or Rapadura instead of white sugar and if so will someone who receives a portion of hers do something different again?  Who Knows?  

I love this whole idea and it certainly hasn't been an effort to give "Hermie" as he is known in our home, a stir each day and some food on day 4 and 9.

This is Herman, doing his thing between meals. 
Obviously, Herman is a sourdough cake or otherwise known as Amish Friendship Bread.  Although it has taken on many names, traditionally it was a sourdough bread cake that was passed around to the sick and needy.  Friendship cakes were popular in the 1970's and thought to be regarded in the same vein as chain letters.   Don't you find it amazing that NOW, when people are feeling at their most disconnected with their families and searching for a community and meaningful friendships that this craze would take off again.   Is it not just another way to connect people?  Its not a letter that threatens Doomsday or dire consequences if not passed on.  Its just an invitation to do so. I could, if i wanted to, keep all 4 parts, bake them up and freeze them (apparently they do freeze well) but where would be the fun in that.

Herman's in Love!
Whilst researching Herman (cause you know i was going too) i came across the most ludicrous entries. 

Here's an example:

Am I the only one who thinks this is just disgusting and finds the thought of eating something that has been growing in my kitchen for 10 days simply dreadful?

I seem to be offending loads of people by turning down their offers of cultures - the last one actually told me that this mixture was called Herman as it was alive (she is clearly insane).

Has this person never eaten sourdough bread or yogurt?  You really have to wonder about some people, don't you?   
Seriously Yummy Herman
On the following link, there are the instructions on how to make a starter, instructions on how to care, feed, share and then bake Herman, as well as plenty of photos of finished cakes.  Quite a variety.

I've gone with the instructions that have been provided, so it's an apple cake that willed be served with whipped cream.  You know how i was describing how healthy Jessie's cake was going to be, well this ain't it.  You just know that it bad bad bad but will taste so so good. 

Pre Baking - i made this picture smaller (less calories)

Ta Daaaa - Meet Herman
The verdict from the boys is that it taste like a cross between a hot cross bun out of the oven (because its still warm) but lighter like a donut with apple.  Sounds good and taste great!

Have you made a Herman cake?  If not check out the starter recipe and pass it among your friends.  Question - does inviting your friends to eat calorie laden cakes count as a blessing or is it only evil if they have publicly declared they are on a diet? 

Thanks for visiting - Living In The Land Of Oz - I love connecting with readers via comments.


  1. Wow Lynda, what a great idea! Your apple cake looks fantastic. I could also ask wheres mine?

  2. I haven't made one yet and probably won't because it's enough for me to keep Audrey (sourdough starter) and Kid Creole (milk kefir) and his coconuts (non dairy milk kefir) happy and healthy. As a lazy middle aged student hippy with a husband who likes to remind me that he is "only 1 man!" and a desire to bake for the entire community I have to reign it in sometimes. The dogs would eat everything that I bake but I fear they wouldn't live long ;). Love the idea and the ethos behind this one and you have to wonder at the MORONS that made those quotes...lets just see...what relies on "live things" to feed us eh?...Wait a minute....EVERYTHING! Sigh...

  3. Gotta say...that cake looks pretty schmick though Lynda D...tasty!...kudos girl! :)

  4. I love this idea! I have Maggie the sourdough starter sitting in the fridge, so why not add another! I think it's so great, like you say, in these times of extreme disconnectedness that people are choosing ways to revive connections!

  5. Love the cake. I have heard of this before but not been a part of it. I would have to treat it as a one off as I already have 2 sourdough starters (Elvis - White and Priscilla - Rye) and milk kefir going on. I would bake a cake and give the rest away. Love the idea. Lets face it some people are clueless when it comes to real food.

  6. *snort* I decided to keep it as is rather than 'sperimending' as I usually do. I figured it was more likely to pass along smoothly in its present form. I will however health up the end cake I bake although with the sugar content it might be an adults only cake I think. My kids with sugar...

    "...the last one actually told me that this mixture was called Herman as it was alive (she is clearly insane)" and they are clearly, well, let's not name call. I'll stick with naive. ;)

    Thanks again for Herman. He has retained his full name so as not to become confused with Hermy the Thermy. I too love the concept of passing something on, sharing and knitting community too.

  7. found your blog whilst looking for Herman relations! cooked my dear Herman the other day! Love your apples on top :D


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