My Friend, Herman

I have a new friend. His name is Herman.

Herman is a sourdough cake recipe which is centuries old. The idea is that you start it off, add sugar flour and milk every few days, then split in into four, give three away and keep one for yourself which you then make into a cake.

You are given a starter mix, which is a substitute for baking yeast. You don’t have to make a cake out of it, you can make bread instead if you wish. There are lots of recipes that you can find on the internet to choose from.

My friend very kindly gave me a Herman starter mix, but I never managed to get many bubbles from it, and then on the day that I was supposed to add ingredients and split it, I was in hospital with Zack. So, I started again and made my own from scratch.

These are the instructions I was given with my cake:

Hello, my name is Herman.

I am a sourdough cake. I’m supposed to sit on your worktop for 10 days without a lid on.

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


  1. You get Herman and put him in a large mixing bowl and cover loosely with a tea towel.
  2. Stir well
  3. Stir well
  4. Herman is 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. Hungry again. Add the same as day 4 and stir well. Divide into 4 equal portions and give away to friends with a copy of these instructions. Keep the 4th one.
  10. Herman is very hungry. Stir well and add the following:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • half tsp (teaspoon) salt
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2/3 (two thirds) cup of cooking oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 cooking apples cut into chunks
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 heaped tsp cinnamon
  • 2 heaped tsp 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 of a cup of melted butter. Bake for 45 minutes at 170-180C. When cold cut into finger pieces. Cake freezes well and is also delicious warm with cream or ice-cream.

This is the recipe for a traditional Herman, but you can search the internet for other recipe ideas, such as chocolate and honeycomb, or coffee and walnut.

Have you ever taken part in a Herman chain before? Would you?

I shall keep you updated on his progress!