Friday, 13 June 2014

Adventures With Herman the German (Friendship Cake, That Is!)

A few weeks ago a friend of mine introduced the Two Cheeky Monkeys family to the whole Herman the German friendship cake enterprise.  I don't know about you, but I had never heard of this cake sharing concept before and was a little intrigued to find out more (because who can resist cake?).  For those of you not already in the know, a Herman cake is basically a cake made from a very basic "sourdough" starter batter.  The starter batter is left to ferment for nine days with minimal supervision (except for a bit of stirring and occasional adding of extra ingredients).

image herman the german friendship cake starter batter
This is what the starter looks like on day ten before the final cake ingredients are added.

Day nine is where the "friendship cake" bit comes in because you divide your starter into four portions, keep one for yourself and pass on the the other three portions to friends.  Said friends need to ferment the starter for one more day before adding in a (rather lengthy) list of ingredients to make up the final cake.  The Two Cheeky Monkeys family were very happy with how our Herman tasted (even though I was naughty and added less sugar than required and also substituted in some wholemeal flour).  Although really, you can't go wrong with cake in this household, especially if it has sultanas and apples in it, as this Herman does.  Mr Cheeky Monkeys is keen to try out the other Herman variations (double chocolate, anyone?), as are the little Cheeky Monkeys.

image herman the german friendship cake sultanas apples sourdough cake yeast
The final cake full of juicy sultanas and apple chunks.

But in all honesty, I'm not really sure what all the fuss is about.  Yes, the cake tasted great and had a nice, moist crumb.  But the fact that I have to leave the batter to ferment on my kitchen bench for TEN DAYS before I get any cake doesn't sit well with someone who is low on patience and bench space.  And giving friends a cake batter which they then have to add a good 10-11 other ingredients to before they get a cake seems to defeat the whole sharing and friendship cake idea in my mind.  Maybe I'm overly practical, but I'd much rather bake up all four cakes myself and give away three finished cakes to my friends and family or someone in need.  What do you think?  Are you really into the whole Herman friendship cake concept?  Or are you just a little puzzled like I am?

1 comment:

  1. I remember this from my own childhood! I think we messed it up somehow. I was told that back in the day women kept starter to make bread...and then if they ran out they would have to get some from a friend. Everyone's starter tasted a little different, but you couldn't make bread without it...and only a friend would give you her "special" starter since people could tell whose bread they were eating by the specific flavor of the starter.

    BUT yes, just give me loaf of bread or a cake. Don't make me do all that work lol.

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