Herman, The German Friendship Cake

Herman, The German Friendship Cake

So here he is, our Herman, and didn’t he scrub up nicely!  He also tasted properly delicious, crazy moist and all cinnamony, with teasing nibbles of apple here and raisins there.  The only thing that might have improved him would have been a slick of Danish bun style icing on the top.  Maybe next time.

I read somewhwere that Herman is the modern equivalent of the chain letter, which I can see, but Herman didn’t threaten me with bad luck until the end of time if I didn’t pass him on.  And he turned into a delicious cake instead of wastepaper bin fodder.  So yeah, I’ll take Herman and his eventual cakey self over chain letters any time 🙂

Caring for him was actually kind of fun, although Hubby will tell you that the first thing I did upon rehousing him into a mixing bowl when I brought him home was try and delegate all care of Herman to Hubby.  Which isn’t strictly a lie… But it was almost like having a pet, as the gluey blob of beige became a personality in his own right.  Strange but true!  That I then felt no remorse at a) baking him, and b) scoffing him is also strange but true… So if you get offered a Herman, do accept, he really is worth it.  And that’s coming from a self-proclaimed savoury head! And if you can’t wait for someone to pass you some Herman, you can very easily start your own.  A quick google of “Herman starter” throws up a bunch of websites with instructions on how to make your own Herman sourdough starter.  All you need then are some instructions to pass on with your little Hermans when they’re ready.  Here are the ones that came with mine, sad faces and all LOL 

Hello, my name is Herman. I am a sourdough cake. I need to sit on your kitchen worktop for 10 days without a lid on. Please do not put me in the fridge or I will die. If I stop bubbling then I am dead 🙁


  • Day 1: When you get Herman home, put him in a large non-metallic mixing bowl and cover loosely with a clean tea towel.
  • Day 2: Stir well with a wooden spoon
  • Day 3: Stir well
  • Day 4: Herman is hungry! Add 1 cup of plain flour, I cup of sugar and 1 cup of milk. Stir well
  • Day 5: Stir Well
  • Day 6: Stir Well
  • Day 7: Stir Well
  • Day 8: Stir Well
  • Day 9: Herman is hungry again! Add 1 cup of plain flour, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of milk, and stir well. Divide into 4 equal portion, keep 1 portion and give the other 3 away to friends with a copy of these instructions.
  • Day 10: Herman is VERY hungry!  And so are we…
Herman, the German Friendship Cake
Delicious, crazy moist and all cinnamony, with teasing nibbles of apple here and raisins there... Friendship cake, does it get any better than that?
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Cook Time
1 min
Cook Time
1 min
Ingredients 1:
  1. 1 portion of Herman starter
  2. 1 cup of sugar
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  4. 2 cups of plain flour
  5. 2/3rds of a cup of cooking oil
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  8. 2 cooking apples, cut into chunks
  9. 1 cup of raisins
  10. 2 heaped teaspoons cinnamon
  11. 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
Ingredients 2:
  1. 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  2. 1/4 cup of melted butter
On Day 10:
  1. Herman is VERY hungry! Stir well, and then add all of the ingredients in the first list above.
  2. Mix everything together and put into a large greased baking tin. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and melted butter per the second list above.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170-180 C before put the cake mixture in. Bake for 45 minutes.
  4. After 45 minutes, the top should be nice and brown (and the amazing smell of the cake should be setting your dribble off!). Cover with tin foil and bake for a further 15 minutes, just to make sure that the middle of the cake is cooked well enough. Stick a knife in the middle to test, if you get wet cake mix on the knife then it needs more baking.
  5. Don’t worry about over-cooking Herman or drying him out, the apple makes him lovely and moist.
  6. When you’re happy that Herman is cooked, take him out of the oven and leave him to cool down a little. If you can’t wait, he tastes great while still warm with a little cream or ice-cream.
  1. Herman also freezes well, which given the amount of cake he makes is probably just as well!
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Hello Herman!

Hello Herman!

Meet my new friend, Herman, the German Friendship Cake.  Only, he’s not quite cake yet.  More a bubbling blob of beige that kind of smells like glue…


If you’re not familiar with Herman, he’s a sourdough cake starter that you are gifted by a friend, that you feed and nurture for ten days.  By this time he will have quadrupled in size, so you split him into four batches and pass three on to friends who then start their own ten day feeding cycle of the Herman sprogs.  The fourth batch you bake into a delicious cake, full of cinnamon and apples, and share with more friends.  How lovely is that!

So this is my Herman, on day 2.  The instructions that he came with are hilarious!  They’re handwritten and besides those days where Herman gets hungry and you have to feed him, they’ve drawn a sad face next to the “or he’ll die” warning LOL  I’ll be back when he’s less blobby and more cakey, which I’ve already tasked Hubby with the baking of since Herman is of Amish origin, apparently, and Hubby hails from Amish country (although isn’t actually Amish himself…)