Early this year I was given a tub of yeast mixture with a list of instructions as follows:
Herman is a friendship cake that you cannot buy but give away. Herman is alive. He grows slowly because of the yeast process. It also takes ten days before you can eat him. Herman shouldn’t be put in the fridge & also requires to be covered by a tea towel. He grows at room temperature.
Hi, my name is Herman.
I am a friendly cake. I can live a long time & travel a long way.
This is how you should look after me. I am made from natural yeast, which is ready in ten days. Then you should divide me into four parts so that three friends can spread the friendship & pass it on to their friends & so on.
Do not put me in the fridge & make sure that I'm not too hot, but I like to be warm. Put me in a large bowl so that I can grow, but do not cover me with a lid, just a clean tea towel. I need to breathe.
Day 1: Herman arrives
Day 2 & 3: Stir Herman well several times a day with a wooden spoon
Day 4: Herman is hungry, please feed him with : 200g sugar, 125 g plain flour, 200ml milk. Stir well.
Day 5,6,7 & 8: Stir well a few times a day
Day 9: Herman is hungry again. Please feed him with: 200g sugar, 125 g plain flour, 200ml milk. Stir well.
Day 10: Divide me into four, one for you & three for your friends.
Add the following to the part you have kept:
150g melted butter
250g plain flour
100g brown sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 apples, peeled, cored, grated
100g dried fruit.
Mix well & pour Herman into a large greased tin, or 2 smaller ones. Make sure it has about a quarter of the tin to rise because otherwise it will overflow. Sprinkle with brown sugar, then bake at 150°C, Gas Mark 2 for 1½ hours.