Baking, Fermenting, Homesteading, News

Herman the German Friendship Cake

Recently a friend said she wanted to introduce me to “Herman the German”. I was intrigued she later admitted he was a cake.  When she came over I was expecting a cake so when she handed me a container of sludge I was even more interested.

It turns out that sludge is Herman. He is a sour dough cake starter for a traditional friendship cake.  This is a Amish tradition where you split the starter to give to friends with instructions and keep one portion to use yourself. Well I haven’t yet managed to pass Herman on to anyone yet but I have made dozens of cakes to freeze and have kept him alive to give to my next visitor.


I have found instructions on starting Herman on and share them below they have some wonderful variations on the cake recipe on their blog.

The Herman Starter Mix

If you have never been given a starter mix for a friendship cake, it is very easy to make. This way you can start your own Herman and get sharing right away. Here’s how:


  • 5oz plain flour
  • 8oz castor sugar
  • 1 packet of active dry yeast
  • Half a pint of warm milk
  • 2 fl oz lukewarm water

What to do:

  1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water for 10 minutes and stir.
  2. Add the flour and sugar then mix thoroughly.
  3. Slowly stir in the warm milk.
  4. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth.
  5. Leave in a cool dry place for 24 hours
  6. Now proceed from day one of the 10 day cycle.

German Friendship Cake


Hello, my name is Herman, I am a sourdough cake.

I’m supposed to sit on your work top for 10 days.

You CANNOT put me in the fridge or I will die. If I stop bubbling, I am dead.

Day 1. When you get Herman put him in a large mixing bowl or container and cover loosely with a tea towel or cling film.

Day 2. Stir well

Day 3. Stir well

Day 4. Herman is hungry. Add the following ingredients, stir well and cover again.

115g/4oz plain flour (1 cup)

225g/8oz granulated sugar (1 cup)

225ml/8oz milk (1 cup)

Day 5. Stir well

Day 6. Stir well

Day 7. Stir well

Day 8. Stir well

Day 9. Herman is hungry again! Add the same ingredients as day 4 and stir well.

Divide into four equal portions and give three away to friends with a copy of these instructions or keep one if you want to start a new batch.

The remaining Herman stays with you to be baked the following day.

Day 10. Herman is very hungry. Stir well and add the following:

225g/8oz sugar (1 cup)

1/2 tsp salt

225g/8oz plain flour (2 cups)

2 heaped tsp cinnamon

2 heaped tsp baking powder

175ml/6oz cooking oil (2/3 cup)

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla essence

2 cooking apples cut into chunks

1 cup raisins

 I have been experimenting with different fruits and have even seen bread recipes which I’m eager to try!

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