Monday, 12 March 2012

Herman zee German Friendship Cake

It may go by the sweet, innocuous name of 'German Friendship Cake', but anyone who receives a containerful of pale brown, fermented slop is likely to question their commitment to carrying on that friendship. Trust me, I was one of those who received said containerful of slop last weekend, and was this-close to breaking off a nearly two decade old friendship.

Wait, what the hell am I on about? Let's start from the beginning, shall we? At the Bake Club meeting last weekend, we were told by Haryo, that week's host, that he had a little something for us to take home. That turned out to be Herman, the sourdough starter essential for baking the Friendship Cake. We were given instructions to stir Herman daily, feed him at a specified time, divide him into four and pass him on to 3 other unfortunate souls, and then finally, to bake him up according to the instructions.

It's the cakey equivalent of those email chain letters from the 90s. Haryo had received it from his friend, who had probably received it from his friend...Needless to say, we were none too please to be burdened with caring for what was, essentially, a living thing. I mean, it had a name and everything! And there it was, bubbling and frothing away beside us...
A quick search on the interwebs will tell you that Herman seems to be pretty trendy these days (well, trendy for bakers, that is). My mum-in-law remembers it being a big fad back in 1980s Poland - she made and passed around a few Hermans herself back then. Maybe us Baker Clubbers are just a bunch of unfriendly anti-social grumps? Anyway, we decided not to risk our friendships, and duly brought Herman back, cared for him and then baked him. 

The full set of instructions are available here. There are also instructions for creating your own monster Herman in that link, if you're so inclined. I must confess to deviating slightly from the recipe - mainly using less sugar, but also a number of other ingredients. Here it is, in case you wish to bake something similar.

Herman The Friendship Cake (adapted from here)

225gm plain flour
120gm caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
2 heaped tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
160ml vegetable/sunflower oil
2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and cubed
50gm walnuts
50gm almonds
50gm prunes, cut into cubes

For topping
50gm brown sugar
50gm butter

- Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Mix everything together and place into a large lined baking tin (mine was 9 inches by 11.5 inches)

- Sprinkle with 50 g brown sugar and 50 g melted butter.

- Put into the oven and check cake after 25mins, using a skewer. If the skewer is clean when removed from cake, then Herman is ready!  It may take 45 mins to an hour to bake through, although mine only took 25 mins due to the larger size of my tin. 

- Allow him to cool and then enjoy!

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