Saturday, 14 January 2012

Herman - The German Friendship Cake
Friendship cake has been around for years.  In fact, I can remember a next door neighbour bringing my mother a batch to our back door almost 40 years ago, perhaps she should have kindly declined and shut the door. 
But that's not very neighbourly is it?

Apparently, 'Herman the German' has gone viral and "Friendship-Kuchen", as I'm now calling it is moving swiftly from one house to another with only one thing on its mind, global cake domination.  I actually believe that Herman is Frau Merkel, the German Chancellor and in a last ditch attempt to rescue the Euro she has gone on a charm offensive handing out pots of Friendship-Kuchen to senior dignitaries of the Euro countries.  I'm sure Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is handy in the kitchen.
Herman with Apple and Cinnamon
So, motivated and uplifted by the recent Celebrity Bake Off I thought I'd give it a go. How difficult can it be? If you've not had the pleasure of making this cake you should be aware that it has a very strange appearance.  I could not bring myself to describe it as my husband suggested!  It is a milky, sloppy, blob which has about as much going for it as road kill. 

Each Friendship-Kuchen comes with a set of instructions and a recipe that has a time span of several days, in fact it takes 10 days.  I have a problem making a recipe that takes 10 minutes!  For some unknown reason it has also been christened Herman.  How did that happen?  The cake originated from the United States many years ago allegedly where they call it Amish Friendship Bread.  Interestingly many people have claimed responsibility for this sour-dough cake.  Unbelievably, a girl scout, obviously trying to achieve a 'baking' badge to beat all badges was responsible for the blob that now crosses our doorsteps.  Like a vampire you have to invite it in and that's when the fun really starts.  

The life of my little Herman was nearly cut short by my health and safety conscious husband  who thought it was time to throw this strange, bubbling gunk, that probably originated from an offspring's bedroom, into the recycling bin where it rightly belonged!  Fortunately, he had second thoughts and left Herman to multiply and prosper as a happy yeast should do.

How to birth your own Herman Friendship-Kuchen

Firstly, get hold of your Herman. Assuming you have friends this step should be easy.

Hello my name is Herman. Yes, he's talking to you!

I am a sour-dough cake I live on your worktop for 10 days without a lid on. I cannot go in the fridge or I will die. If I stop bubbling then I am dead.


  1. You get Herman put him in a large mixing bowl and cover loosely with a tea towel.
  2. Stir him well
  3. Stir him again
  4. Feed Herman he's hungry. Add 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar and milk. Stir well
  5. Stir well
  6. Stir well
  7. Stir well
  8. Stir well
  9. Assuming you've not lost the will to live. Herman is hungry again, add as day 4. Stir well. Divide into 4 equal portions and give 3 to friends including a copy of the instructions. Keep the 4th one.
  10. Herman is very hungry. Stir well and add the following.
Herman with banana, pecan and mixed spice

Ingredients - (American Measures)

1 cup sugar
Half teaspoon salt
2 cups plain flour
2/3 (two thirds) cup of cooking oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 cooking apples cut into chunks
1 cup of raisins
2 heaped teaspoon cinnamon
2 heaped teaspoon baking powder

Mix everything together and put into a large greased baking tin. Sprinkle with a quarter of a cup of brown sugar and a quarter cup of melted butter. Bake for 45 minutes at 170-180c. When cold cut into finger pieces. Cake freezes well and is delicious warm with cream or ice-cream.

I did omit the topping of sugar and butter and it was delicious without!  The only problem now is that I can't stop eating it! 

Being protective of my family of Hermans I only gave away two and baked two varying the ingredients by replacing apples and cinnamon with banana, pecan and mixed spice....Yummy!


  1. I have to admit that it looks gorgeous, but I'm not sure I'd have the time to make it!!! Could you send some via the post to me!!! Hee Hee :)

  2. Not only does it look gorgeous but it tastes delicious! I would love to send you some buy post. Unfortunately, gazing longingly at the screen is the only option that I can come up with on a Sunday morning! Thanks for your comment.

  3. When I made the cake I decided to leave the mixture overnight to rise, as you would with bread which has yeast in it. It seems a bit daft not to let the yeast rise before you bake it. It did seem less dense than in your photo.

    1. Good point. Leaving it overnight will mean that the yeast probably takes over from the raising agent which activates when it comes into contact with moisture and fairly quickly completes its job. In my case the cake was very moist and light. Who are we to stray from the instructions that have been going round for years. We might upset Herman!