“Hello my name is Herman.
Do not out me in the fridge. If you put me in the fridge, I will die.
If I stop bubbling I am dead.”
Are you sure that you’re ready for this amount of responsibility!??
My beautiful friends Rachel and Kristian delivered a pot of batter to my home. Kristian held it like a baby and protectively looked over my shoulder as I poured it into a large bowl, so that it would have room to ‘grow’.
‘What on Earth is this crazy woman talking about?’, I hear you cry!?
Herman is the starting point for a cake recipe that is centuries old. The starter mix can be passed around between friends and family, sometimes across countries….for years and years. Rumour has it that this mix was begun before I was born!
The yeasty, gloopy mixture is regularly stirred and ‘fed’ and it ‘grows’ over a period of ten days before being split into four and shared with friends (keeping one portion for yourself!). Your friends in turn will care for their Herman for ten days before splitting. The magic comes on day ten when your portion is used to bake an incredibly rich, spiced cake . In fact the cake is so delicious you may find yourself wishing you had retained more than one portion for yourself. Luckily my Dad refused to accept his portion so I DID end up looking after an extra portion Herman for another ten days.
I say luckily but this extra portion became a bone of contention between my husband and I. You see once I had Herman, I loved him and became a little obsessed :-S I discovered that Herman could be used to make a great many things including bread and quite frankly, THE perfect ginger loaf. When another ten days passed and I chose to keep the lot rather than split him again, Phill began to get a little jealous.
‘Is that stuff still here?’
‘You messing with that goop again’
‘I think it’s time for Herman to move out’
You see Herman continued to grow and ended up in a huge bowl, bubbling away to himself, just waiting for me to scoop out another cup and experiment. He wasn’t doing any harm 🙁
I did share Herman. I just didn’t share ALL of him. I gave some to my lovely friend Jess, Nicola who has two girls that LOVE to bake, Alessandro who owns Winckleys, the best cafe/coffee shop in Preston and I gave some back to Kristian (who is also a chef!), who openly admitted that he had been missing caring for Herman.
Then Herman grew again and I decided to split him into portions and take him, with instructions to my Women’s Institute and ‘rehome’ him. Phill was thrilled….little did he know there was still a portion in the kitchen ;-P
I’ve decided to share with you some of the successful recipes, (there were some disasters) and encourage you not to turn Herman away if you are offered a portion of him. He’s a quiet house-guest, doesn’t ask for much and rewards your hospitality with yummy cake!!
I suspect my love affair with Herman will continue as long as my marriage will withstand it, so if you would like some and you live in the UK (I doubt he’d make it through customs) let me know and I’ll see if I can get some to you. If you are too far away, you can find instructions to create a starter mix online.
I hope my Herman adoptees will let us all know how their cake turned out and that you will let me know about your own adventures with Herman the German!?