Monday, 2 January 2012

Herman ze German



I've posted before about Amish Friendship Bread, also known as Herman the German, a travelling sweet leaven that in feeding and baking produces more of himself to share with friends and loved ones.

My upstairs neighbour Rachel gave me some a couple of months ago and he's been baked and baked, with some given to Mark's mum, one batch given to one of the Guides, and another spilled in the car. Sorry Mark.

Anyway, I've noticed on facebook - speaking of which, have you seen the Penelope's Pantry page yet? Please feel free to like, I tend to do updates and general whittering on there.

Where was I? Oh yes, well, I've noticed on Facebook that Herman is doing the rounds, and I know that many Guide units are becoming beset with Hermans too so I thought I'd give some ideas for ways with Herman, as well as type out the original recipe in case you're a recipient without instructions.

OK, first to dispell some myths:

  • if you miss a feed Herman won't die
  • You don't need to stir out all the lumps when you feed Herman
  • If you get a bit bored, Herman is quite happy to nap for a bit on your worktop
  • You don't need to follow the recipe exactly, Herman is fairly forgiving

Now... here's the recipe. And much like the recent post on hot chocolate, I'll add some ways you can adapt Herman to suit your own tastes.

Day one: Put Herman in a big mixing bowl on your worktop (not in the fridge)
                Cover loosely with a tea towel
Day two: Stir Herman and peer in to see what's happening
Day three: Stir Herman and grumble a bit about about the worktop space he's taking up
Day four: Feed Herman
                 115g plain flour
                 240g caster sugar
                 250ml milk
                 Now just give him a little stir, ignore the lumps
Day five: Stir Herman, be amazed at the bubbles
Day six: Stir Herman whilst wondering if you'll ever get to eat him
Day seven: Stir Herman
Day eight: Stir again, despair of this ever becoming cake
Day nine: Feed Herman as above
Day ten... BAKING DAY!

First you split your mix into four containers and give three away to friends/ suckers/ baking nerds (delete as appropriate) then keep one and supplement that mixture as follows:

240g caster sugar
230g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
160ml oil (it needs to be tasteless, so no extra virgin olive oil here)
2 eggs, beaten
2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
160g sultanas
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 heaped tsps cinammon
2 heaped tsps baking powder
60g brown sugar

Grease and line a roasting tin, or a couple of brownie tins - yes you read that right, there's a lot of mix here.
Pour your batter in, and sprinkle with brown sugar
Bake for 45 mins at 180 degrees C
This makes a lot of cake - it both travels and freezes well.

OK, so now you have Herman coming out of your ears (not literally I hope, I'd see a doctor about that). Do you want to do keep another Herman to keep going? If so, try these additions:

  • Instead of apple, sultana and cinammon, try plum, prune and ground cloves
  • Or pear, ground ginger and stem ginger
  • Dried fruit, apricots, prunes, dates or mixed fruit would all work well
  • Berries, blueberries, or a bag of frozen (drained) berries
  • Raspberries and ground almonds (instead of some of the flour)
  • Changing the sugar to brown will make the cake more treacley
  • Switching the sugar and blitzing down some dates and prunes, with cinammon and ginger would make a lighter version of parkin
  • Warm slices through and have with ice cream as a quick and easy pudding
  • Top with a mix of butter, sugar and cinammon and grill for a take on cinammon toast (an old uni favourite of mine)
The nice thing about Herman is that you always have cake, it works out cheaper than buying cake for lunches, and you know what's in it. I love the idea of sharing it with friends and family, that said I'm lucky to be able to foist it off on Guides as otherwise I'd be losing popularity with people swamped by Herman left, right and centre. That said if you want some and aren't close enough to get some from me, then try my post on Amish Friendship bread, when I made the starter myself. Sometimes, when ill I just have had too much free time it would seem!



1 comment:

Sarah's Kitchen Diary said...

Wow this is brilliant. When I was a child we used to make what we called German Friendship Cake. We must have grown bored after a while and let the starter disappear but I remember it being a lot of fun and really tasty! I'll have to give it a go, thanks for the memories :) x

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