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Everyone needs a bit of Herman


Have just been through the Jubilee Weekend here in England, I have come to realise that there is something else other than soccer that the English are crazy about. The craze for growing and making Herman doesn’t quite compare to the Jubilee Celebrations but there are enough starters around England being passed from friend to friend. Go Herman!

It was a sleepy Sunday evening when friends of ours dropped in to give me a box of Herman and instructions as to what to do. All this might sound a bit kinky but I promise you it was the starter for a harmless sourdough cake. The instructions had a website  and Herman the German friendship cake seemed quite a fun thing to do, it was right up my alley and so I got started right away. as can the recipe for the basic apple and cinnamon cake and several other cake recipes.





The first Herman I made was a double-Herman and took it into work. My team has nearly 80 members and Herman sure got devoured. The changes I made to the recipe are as follows.

1. I used two portions of sourdough to bake it and baked in a large lasagne dish.

2. I used gluten-free flour instead of standard flour as one of my colleagues is gluten-intolerant. If using gluten-free flour in England, I recommend the Doves Farm brand and make sure you add an extra half cup of milk to make the cake more moist.

3. I didn’t melt butter and sugar and pour it over the top – given my silly oven, I thought it would guarantee a burnt top if I did so.

4. However, I did make a simple crumble topping using 1 and 1/2 cups of gluten-free flour, 100 gms cold butter and 3/4 cup of Demerera (coffee) sugar. To make the crumble, rub the butter into the flour with your fingers using a pinching action. The crumble is ready when the flour and butter resemble breadcrumbs. At this stage, add the sugar and mix it in.

5. I used 3 large Bramley apples instead of 4 and left the skins on for extra nutrition.

6. I used 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of nutmeg instead of cinnamon alone.

7. I cooked the double-Herman for 1 hour at 180ºC . The cake was rising like a volcano in the centre but still wobbly. At this point, I covered the cake with crumble and baked it for another hour. The crumble and cake were perfectly cooked by then.

8. I made a single Herman more recently and I really think one of us should take it into work lest we eat it all.



1. The 45 minutes at 170-180º does not work if you have a dinky oven like I do. I placed the baking dish on one of the lower shelves of the oven and cooked it for nearly 2 hours. As the website says, if you find the top going a bit brown, cover it with silver foil and put it back in the oven.

2. If you don’t want your apples and raisins/sultanas to sink to the bottom, toss them in flour before adding them to the batter. The flour soaks up the moisture making the fruit lighter and more evenly distributed throughout the cake. Use the same trick for bits of chocolate or nuts.

3. If you are vegan, then use egg-substitute and leave the crumble out or use margarine instead of butter to make the crumble topping.

4. If you are really allergic to gluten, make Herman using gluten-free flour. My double-Herman was 1/7th gluten and 6/7th gluten-free flour.





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