Hello my name is Herman, read the opening line of a letter I received. The letter was accompanied by an ice-cream container holding a bubbling yeasty batter. This strange gift came from a friend of my father-in-law. I was so intrigued. It appeared to be the culinary equivalent of a chain letter with a sourdough starter in tow.
I looked at the bowl of unsightly fermenting dough, read through the letter containing the instructions and curiosity got the better of me.
The letter read:
” Hello my name is Herman. I am a sourdough cake. I’m supposed to sit on your bench for 10 days without a lid on. But you can cover me with a tea-towel. 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 with a tea-towel.
Day 2 – 3: Stir Well
Day 4: Herman is hungry. Add 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar and milk. Stir well
Day 5 – 8: Stir well each day.
Day 9: 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 fourth portion and make more of me.
Day 10: Now you are ready to make the cake. Stir well and add the following:-
1 cup sugar, 2 cups plain flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2/3 cup cooking oil, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, 2 cooking apples (cut into chunks), 1 cup of raisins, 2 heaped teaspoons of cinnamon, 2 tsp bicarb or baking powder.
You can add any dried fruits or essences (lemon, blueberry and coconut make a nice cake)
To bake: Place all ingredients together, mix then place in a large greased baking dish, using a 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of melted butter. Bake 45 mins at 160 degrees. Test middle with a clean knife. You need to cover in foil and bake for further 20 mins, make sure its cooked in the middle. When baked Herman can be frozen.
I have to admit that for those ten days, Herman owned me. I had to keep him alive, even just for experiment sake. Every day I nurtured him the anticipation grew. Herman has been baked and passed on into the world yet again, multiplying each time. He truly was delicious, heart warming and rich with intrigue and story. Just my kind of thing.
You can start your own Herman starter, follow the link here for instructions.
Or you never know, he may just turn up in your life randomly, like he did to me.