Herman the Friendship Cake

Day 0 - my new project

Day 0 – my project

Ben won’t like it if I don’t get some not-so-healthy food into my blog, so I searched back over my archives (yes, I have ‘archives’ even though I’ve only been writing this blog for 3 days) for something suitable, and came up with these photos.

A while back, a friend gave me a German – or Amish depending on your sources –  Friendship Cake starter (also known as Herman) a while back.  If you don’t know what a Herman is, I guess you were living under a rock a couple of years ago when it made a big comeback.  I guess it’s a bit like the chain letters of my childhood (did you do that, there was even a chocolate one, a bit like a chocolate pyramid scheme) in that it is popular in your ‘circle’ for a while, then moves on once everyone has had a go.

The starter is a sourdough starter made of yeast, flour, milk and sugar.  The idea is that you keep Herman, a bit like a pet, feed him and grow him until you can share the starter with your friends and make a cake with your share 10 days later.  He is a bit smelly when uncovered – but I rather liked the smell: musty and yeasty.  Hmm, what does that say about me??? (And Ben for that matter!)

German Friendship Cake Day 0

Day 0 – New Home

When you receive Herman you move him into a larger home, a large mixing bowl is good, and cover loosely with a tea towel.

Herman Friendship Cake - Day 0

Day 0 – nap time

Day 2 and Day 3 give Herman a good stir.

Day 4 – Herman is hungry! Feed him up with 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar and milk. Stir well and put him back to bed.

Day 4 - multiply

Day 4 – Herman is hungry

Herman is now getting bigger, on day 5, 6, 7 and 8 give him a good stir, and put him back to bed until tomorrow.

Day 5 - stir
Day 5 to 8 – stir

Day 9 – Herman is hungry again! Add 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar, milk. Stir well.

Day 10 - it's multiplied

Day 9 – it’s now multiplied

Divide into 4 equal parts and give 3 away to friends – pick your friends well 🙂

Herman 4 stays with you and on day 10 you can bake a cake.

Day 10 - split into four and share with a friend

Day 9 – split into four and share with a friend

Day 10 – bake a cake

There are several recipes for the cake, and my Herman came with an apple and cinnamon recipe.  I made it for my birthday cake, so I made white chocolate and nut filled with greengage jam and cream.

To make the cake

  • 1 share of Friendship cake starter
  • 150g self raising flour,
  • 250g sugar,
  • 100ml oil,
  • 1/2tsp salt,
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract,
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon,
  • 1½ tsp baking powder,
  • 2 eggs,
  • 75g chocolate chunks (I used white),
  • 100g chopped nuts of your choice. Bake 30-35 mins in loaf tin or 20-25 mins in two 8-inch sandwich tins, and sandwich together with cream &/ thick cooked cranberries sauce .


  1. Mix everything together and put in a large greased roasting tin
  2. Bake 30-35 minutes at GM4, 170C (fan oven) 180C in a loaf tin, or 20-25 minutes for two 8-inch sandwich tins.
  3. When cold sandwich together with cream and jam of your choice.  If you aren’t feeling in the mood, or if you don’t have enough friends to pass the starter on to (I’m not judging!) the cake freezes well (don’t cream and jam it first though)
    Herman Friendship cake

    Herman Friendship Cake

    Have you made a friendship cake?  How do you feel about using an ingredient which has been passed among your friends?  Do you remember sending chain letters as a kid? 🙂


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