Herman the German Friendship Cake

It appears that chain letters have evolved… into friendship cakes. My housemate Amrita was recently given ‘Herman, The German Friendship Cake’. It is a sourdough culture that you grow and divide.

You use one quarter to make the cake and give the rest to three friends to continue the chain. Weird? Yes! I thought it would make an interesting blog post though.

Neither Amrita nor I are fond of chain mail, or their incarnations and although we won’t be continuing the friendship cake chain, it was a fun experience.

Herman is a sourdough mixture made from milk, flour and sugar and is fermented at room temperature. I find the idea of milk fermenting at room temperature for 10 days rather off putting and illness inducing!

During the days of growth and fermentation Herman bubbled away, looking icky but smelling sweet.

Here we go…

01 Herman

From start to finish it takes ten days to make Herman.

Day 1: Put Herman in a large mixing bowl and cover

Day 2: Stir

Day 3: Stir

Day 4: Herman is hungry. Add 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar and milk. Stir well

Day 5: Stir

Day 6: Stir

Day 7: Stir

Day 8: Stir

Day 9: Add the same as day 4 and stir well. Divide into four equal portions. Give three portions with a copy of the instructions to friends. Keep the fourth portion.

Day 10: Now you are ready to make the cake.

Stir well and add 1 cup sugar, 2 cups plain flour, 1/2t salt, 2/3 cup cooking oil, 2 eggs, 2t vanilla essence, 2t cinnamon, 2t baking powder.

02 cake mixtureDice two apples and add them to the mixture

03 applesThe mixture will be thick. ‘Pour’ in the mixture into a well greased cake tin. I used a springform cake tin and lined the bottom with greaseproof paper. (Optional) sprinkle the top of the cake with 30mls of butter and 30mls of brown sugar.

04 cake tinBake Herman for 45 minutes at 170 degrees Celsius. Test if the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean the cake is cooked, otherwise bake it for a little longer.

05 cake2Outcome: The cake looks and smells amazing, and more surprising – it tastes amazing too, like an apple teacake! Added bonus, as Herman is a sourdough cake and therefore a bit heavier than a normal apple tea cake he freezes well – I have since made two more Herman cakes and frozen them.

Ingredients: Herman the sourdough culture, 4 cup plain flour, 3 cup sugar, 2 cup milk, 2/3 cup vegetable oil, 2 eggs, 1/2t salt, 2t vanilla essence, 2 chopped apples, 2t cinnamon, 2t baking powder.

Equipment: bowl, spoon, measuring cup, cake tin, oven


  1. Days 1 to 3, stir Herman
  2. Day 4 feed Herman 1 cup of each flour, milk and sugar
  3. Days 5 to 8, stir Herman
  4. Day 9 feed Herman 1 cup of each flour, milk and sugar. Divide Herman into four. Give three portions to friends and keep one portion for the cake.
  5. Day 10 mix Herman with the remaining sugar and flour and all other ingredients, except the apples. Once the mixture is smooth, add the chopped apples and stir in.
  6. Put Herman in a well greased cake tin and bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes or until cooked.

Also check out Orange & Poppy Seed Herman Cake


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