German Friendship Cake


A few weeks ago our neighbour and her daughter popped in to share with us a slice of freshly baked German Friendship Cake. It was a lovely surprise and this is now one of my favourite cakes. But the cake comes with a twist. Originating with the Amish people, they would give out a type of sourdough bread that was passed among the needy and sick. It has now become a kind of ‘chain-letter cake’ as, along with the cake, you are also given a starter mix, fondly referred to as ‘Herman the German’. You must nurture Herman for 10 days before baking the cake and passing it on. If you start now you and your friends can have this cake ready for the fete!


Ingredients for the Herman starter mix:  
5oz plain flour Half a pint of warm milk
8oz castor sugar 2 fl oz lukewarm water
1 packet of active dry yeast  
To feed Herman you will need:  
10oz plain flour 16fl oz of warm milk
1lb castor sugar  


  1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water for 10 minutes and stir.
  2. Add the flour and sugar then mix thoroughly.
  3. Slowly stir in the warm milk.
  4. Cover the bowl in a clean cloth.
  5. Leave in a cool dry place for 24 hours
  6. You MUST NOT put Herman in the fridge or he will die. If he stops bubbling, he’s dead!

Now proceed from day one of the 10 day cycle as follows:

  1. Day 1: Put me in a large mixing bowl and cover loosely with a tea towel.
  2. Day 2 and 3: Stir well
  3. Day 4: Herman is hungry. Add 5oz of plain flour, 8oz of caster sugar and 8fl oz of warm milk. Stir well.
  4. Day 5, 6, 7 and 8: Stir well
  5. Day 9: Add the same as day 4 and stir well. Divide into 4 equal portions, putting 3 portions into separate containers that you can pass on to friends.
  6. Day 10: Now you are ready to make the cake. Stir well and add the following:

To make the Cake


  1. Grease a 9 inch by 13 inch tray bake tin.
  2. Mix well and pour the mixture into the tin.
  3. Sprinkle with the Demerara sugar over the cake and pour over the melted butter.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
  5. Test the middle with a clean knife; you may need to cover in tin foil and bake for a further 20 minutes to make sure your Herman is cooked properly in the middle.

Once cooled, deliver a slice of the cake to three friends along with a pot of Herman and a copy of the instructions. And so the cake goes on.

I am told the cake freezes well but I can’t confirm this as it all got eaten by my Official Taster. It’s scrummy.


Fermenting yeast



dried fruit