The German Friendship Cake

Tracking Herman!


Here’s how it works – Herman is the bubbling guts inside the German Friendship Cake. You nurture and feed him over a period of days. Then before you cook him, you divvy him up between your friends who then nutrure, feed and divvy him before they bake him into their own cake.


German friendship cake


Imagine the spread of chicken pox and you’ll be along the right lines.

Woman with young boy sitting on her knee


I have my very own Herman bubbling away in the kitchen – it’s like we’ve got a new lodger! Our Herman started in Sale – I got my portion from my friend Cat (mum of my cheeky GodBoy Sam).

The cunning plan is to see if we can track Herman as he travels and multiplies around Greater Manchester – and beyond!




But Cat can explain it all better than me – so over to you Cat ……


When my friend Anna posted on Facebook the cryptic message: “Anyone local want a portion of Herman the German friendship cake? I’ve been told he’s yummy but you need to grow him yourself….”

I was curious enough to leave a suitably non-committal comment:  ”Eh??”  Anna, however, clearly wasn’t doing non-committal that day and back pinged the reply, “OK Cat, that’s you officially volunteered!”

Herman, it transpired, is a sourdough cake, made from a special starter mix which ferments and grows its own yeast (please keep reading, it’s worth it!). I was already reasonably familiar with the concept, being blessed with a husband who is a whizz at sourdough bread. The downside of this is that he keeps a pot of live mix in the fridge, which he disturbingly refers to as ‘the mother’ and brings out to feed occasionally, like his own pet alien.

This is Ollie, our cat guarding ‘the mother’!


Black cat guarding jar of sour dough yeast


Herman duly arrived in his starter mix incarnation, along with a set of instructions.  “Hello”, he began chirpily.  “My name is Herman and I am a German sourdough friendship cake”. I peered at the gently bubbling white goo and read on to find out what to do next.  Alarmingly, Herman’s tone suddenly took on an ominous note.  You CANNOT put me in the fridge, he warned (underlined for good measure) or I will dieIf I stop bubbling, I am dead“.  Horror of horrors!  My mind flashed back to 1997 and the image of my Tamagotchi lying on the floor of its screen with crosses for eyes.  What had I got myself into?

Happily, Herman proved very easy to look after.  I simply had to stir him well for a few days, then on Day 4 he announced he was hungry and needed plain flour, sugar and milk adding.  This caused a slight panic in that he then stopped bubbling for a while and I was convinced I’d killed him – but the next day when I apprehensively peeked under his tea towel, he’d expanded to twice his size and was bubbling away again!


 German friendship cake mix


The really fun part of the Herman experience is that after ten days, two feeds and numerous stirs, you divide him up into four. You bake and eat one portion (a joyous experience in itself, I can vouch), and give the other three away to friends.  Ten days later, each friend passes him on to three of their friends!  So Herman is quite possibly the best travelled cake ever.


Two boys eating friendship cake


Which brings me to the exciting idea that we’ve had here at 4Manchester Women.  We’re going to follow Herman on his adventures, starting in Sale, and see whereabouts in Manchester, or even further afield, he gets to!  He has promised to send us lots of photos and reports from his travels, a bit like the garden gnome in Amelie, and we’ll publish them here on the Homey page.

Herman is really excited about becoming our roving reporter, so keep watching this page to see what he gets up to!

Now, back to the cake.  So far, we’ve tried him with ice cream, cream and plain yoghurt – and it was bliss every time.  Vielen Dank, Herman. Xx


Herman the German Friendship Cake

Hello, my name is Herman.  I am a Sourdough Cake.  I am 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.

Day 1: Put me in a large mixing bowl and cover me with a tea towel.

Day 2: Stir well.

Day 3:  Stir well.

Day 4:  I’m hungry!  Add 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar and milk and stir well.

Day 5:  Stir well.

Day 6:  Stir well.

Day 7:  Stir well.

Day 8:  Stir well.

Day 9:  I’m hungry again.  Add the same as Day 4 and stir well.  Divide me into 4 equal portions and give 3 away to friends with a copy of these instructions.  Keep the 4th portion.

Day 10: Now I am ready to be made!  Stir well and add the following:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • Half teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • Two thirds cup of cooking oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cooking apples cut into chunks
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 heaped teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence.

Mix everything together and put into a large, greased baking tin.

Sprinkle with a cup of brown sugar and a quarter of a cup of melted butter.

Bake for 45 minutes at 170-180 degrees C.   Allow to cool.


EAT ME!!!  I’m delicious with cream, ice cream and natural yoghurt.  I also freeze well.


I am travelling all over Manchester and beyond and have promised to let those nice ladies at 4Manchester Women know what I get up to.  And they have promised to feature me on their site regularly! So please join in the fun by emailing where I am, a photo of you enjoying me, a suggestion of what to eat me with, or anything else you fancy,  to Cat at and help me become a star!


Cat x


Photographs: Cat Barker and Alison Staples

This is not a sponsored blog post.





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13 thoughts on “The German Friendship Cake

  1. I can indeed confirm that Herman was absolutely delicious – his remains made it up to Windermere where my inlaws were also suitably impressed!

    Hi, my name’s Hannah, I am a previous parent to Herman and have made it my mission to document his journey from here. Currently a BA Hons Book Arts and Design student at London College of Communication I am taking this journey on as my final project and hope to collate a family photo album of Herman in all the new families in all the new homes he finds himself in.
    Once you have taken him in as your own and raised him until the end I would be so grateful for a family portrait to add to the collection. Just send a photo of yourselves with Herman in whichever baked form he takes with you to my email:
    I will let you know when it is done so you can keep an eye out for your family portrait!
    Thank you and good luck with your temporary parenthood.

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