A few days back I made friends with Herman. He came in a jar, courtesy a friend of mine, who put him in there and handed him to me. He stayed with me for ten days and on the tenth day delivered a delicious promise. No this is not a gory spin off of Fifty Shades of Grey(which I haven’t read, I hasten to add. Yet. the library waiting list is 600 people long! :O). This one is about a friendship cake named Herman who stayed with us for twelve days, the last two of which were spent polishing him off.
This yummy fruity cake is the culinary equivalent of a chain letter. My friend gave me a small amount of batter, which is the starter, which was stirred, “fed” milk and flour and rested for the next ten days. It returned the favour by making my kitchen smell of beer.
Since the idea is to propagate Hermans, on the ninth day, I divided the batter up in four and handed three off to friends. Reading up on it, I found that this tradition is rooted in the Amish culture. The cake is a sourdough cake where airborne yeast is used to ferment a mixture of flour sugar and water. The Amish people are said to have then used the batter to make pancakes, bread and cakes. What was left of original starter leavening mixture was then passed around the community for others to cook/bake with.
The good news about Herman is that you can start your own mix if you’d like. Yes it won’t be “traditional” but he is lovely enough to break a few rules. Also, if you like, you can make a savoury cake instead of a sweet one, by adding sundried tomatoes, olives etc.- this is what Wikipedia tells me. While the site may not be the most reliable of sources, it doesn’t sound like a bad idea. If you try the variation out, do tell me how you fared.
For the recipe head here. The image below is from another friend who was kind enough to photograph her cake (made from the starter I gave her). I was too distraught to click pictures, mourning the end of Herman.