Monday 16 July 2012

Hello Herman.

I've been nursing a Herman the German (friendship cake) for quite a while now, and am still enjoying the task I've set myself of keep one/cook one without repeating recipes, and split and share occasionally with willing cake enthusiasts. I have my own favourites among the many I've cooked, but though I've found loads of people talking about them on the internet, I haven't seen very many British recipes with grams, or very many recipes that use a whole portion of Herman rather than a half or a cup or something. So. Here I am, with a blog that has had nothing to do with food historically, starting a tradition of Herman blogging, in the hope that the recipes may find other struggling Herman devourers looking for some inspiration.

And so, to begin, a brief introduction to those who may never have met Herman. Herman is a sourdough batter that you keep in your kitchen at room temperature, uncovered except for a teatowel, made up of milk, sugar and flour in equal volumes, that bubbles with fermentation and requires regular stirring, feeding and splitting. The usual cycle is over ten days, and looks something like the document to the left (complete with splatters, which came on my copy courtesy of Herman's previous owners, Dave and Adrienne).

The tone is a bit.. patronising... but the theory is sound. So I don't end up with four Hermans at the end of each cycle, and so two to get rid of, I've just been adding half measures on both feeding days and only splitting into two come day 9.

The first cake I made was a ginger cake, and since then I have also made: chocolate cherry cake, carrot and coconut cake, coffee cake, double chocolate cake, banana cake, lemon drizzle cake and, I think, a few others that have slipped from memory. The possibilities are endless. And delicious.

So, the other day I made a Cherry Bakewell Herman, adapted fairly straightforwardly from a recipe at BBC Good Food. It was ace. Here it is:

Herman Bakewell
Cherry Bakewell Herman

1 portion of Herman
200g butter, melted
200g golden caster sugar
100g self raising flour
100g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
1 tsp almond extract

175g icing sugar
Juice of ½  a lemon
Glace/dried cherries or toasted flaked almonds. Or both.

Cherry jam

- Heat the oven to 170°C (180°C if you don't have a fan oven). Grease/line your chosen cake tin/s with butter. It's a sandwich cake, so two 20cm-ish sponge tins will do it, or I use a 20cm springform tin and just cut the cake horizontally through the middle. I'm not precious, and I know it's riskier, but I make do with what I've got!
- Mix together the wet ingredients (Herman, beaten eggs, almond extract and melted butter).
- Sift the flour and baking powder, and stir the rest of the dry ingredients together. 
- Make a well and pour in the wet ingredients mixture, and stir until combined.
- Pour the mixture into the cake tin/s and bake for 35-45 minutes (depending on your cake tin arrangement!) or until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean.
- Allow to cool a little in the tin, then completely on a wire rack. 
- Once cool, spread the bottom half with cherry jam and place the top half on top. Mix together your icing gradually, until spreadable but not too runny, then spread generously over the top and embrace the slight dribbles down the side. Place your cherries/almonds in a pretty arrangement.... and tuck in!

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