Herman Friendship Cake

August 1, 2011

Bear with me on this recipe, I think it’s lovely but some people have thought it strange!

This cake comes from a recipe called Herman the German.

Basically you get given a little starter of yeasty cake mix, which you then look after, feed and grow it for 10 days by feeding the yeast.

You then split it into four, bake one part into a cake then give the other three parts away to friends who carry on the cycle.

It gives really tasty, moist cake and you can add whatever you want at the end.

If you want to start the cake…

1 packet Dry Yeast
2 cups lukewarm Water
2 cups Flour

In a glass or plastic container, dissolve yeast in warm water then add flour and beat till smooth. Cover and let stand at room temperature 48 hours. This makes two cups of the starter.
Use one cup of Herman and give the other cup to a friend, that’s two Herman cakes out in the world!

Below are the exact instructions I was given by my colleague Liz who passed Herman to me…

“Hello, my name is Herman. I’m a sourdough cake, if I have come to live with you it’s because one of you friends believes that you will keep me alive and then introduce me to more friends. I’m supposed to be kept on a worktop for 10 days without a lid on…
You can’t put me in the fridge (or I will die). If I stop bubbling, I am dead…. Follow the instructions in how to keep me alive below; it’s been a pleasure meeting you”

 Day 1: Herman has come to live with you, first of all pour him into a large mixing bowl, cover loosely with a tea towel.

Day 2: Stir well

Day 3: Same as yesterday (easy huh?)

Day 4: Herman will be very hungry!! Add 1 cup of plain flour, sugar and milk and then stir well.

Day 5-8: Stir well

Day 9: Hungry again, add the same as Day 4 and stir well…

… Then divide the mixture into 4 equal amounts and give 3 away to your friends (only trustworthy ones please) with a copy of these instructions. Herman no. 4 will stay with you.

 Day 10: Herman’s hungry again… Stir well and add the following:

1 cup of sugar
2 cups plain flour
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder 
½ tsp salt
2/3 cup of cooking oil
2 cooking apples (in chunks)
1 cup of raisins (optional)
½ cup of walnuts (optional) 
(other optional ingredients pineapple, cherries, chopped chocolate etc)

Method: Mix everything together & put into a large greased roasting tin.
Sprinkle with ¼ cup of melted butter and ¼ cup of brown sugar.
Bake for 45 minutes at 170-180 (gas mark 5).
When cold cut into finger shaped pieces. Freezes well and is delicious warm with cream and custard… enjoy!!

I added to mine almond essence, ground almonds, flaked almonds, white chocolate chunks and raspberries. Delicious!

Give it a go, start one with your friends and see how far it spreads!

Ok so I haven’t made this. But I had to share with you, Not Martha is too good. Check out her blog.

This time she has put little cakes in jars. I love this and wish I could do it for my wedding but would be more suited to a picnic wedding I think. 

She makes it sounds easy… can it be? Would you give this a go?

See the full post at Not Martha

Soft White Rolls

April 12, 2011

 So as I said yesterday I made our burger baps for the BBQ on Sunday, and I am so happy I gave it a go as they turned out to be so good!

I made double just in case something went wrong, as I was doing the first batch I made a little mistake so thought it wise to make more.

I used a River Cottage recipe. This makes 6 rolls.

You need:
300 ml water
500g white bread flour
5g yeast
10g salt
35g butter

1. Mix water with flour, bring together into a rough mixture. Add yeast, salt and butter and work into a dough.

2. Knead for 5-10 mins. If it’s too sticky add a little bit more flour. As you work it the stickiness starts to disappear, then it becomes more elastic.

I thought it had all gone wrong here, the instructions are a bit vague and don’t tell you how the dough should look or how to knead but I remembered my bread making lesson with John and what we had done there.

The dough was not smooth like it was that night though, so I was worried.

3. Leave to prove in an oiled bowl for an hour and a half in a warm place.

I left mine in the sunshine, with a bag over it with air in (something I learnt from John)

4. Tip out onto a very lightly floured surface, knock back, then shape. Cut in half, then cut each half into 3 to make 6 balls of dough. Stamp out with your fingers then make it into a ball shape. Roll it around to make it into a nice smooth shape.

5. Put on a greased baking sheet, fairly widely spaced apart. Sprinkle flour on top. Leave to rise somewhere warm for 30 minutes.

6. Put in the oven – 15-20 mins at 210-215°C.

So easy! Don’t worry too much basically, this recipe is fine and everything turned out great.

In the end I actually made too many and we are eating them for lunch this week, I think they might actually be getting better as the days go on!

Making Real Bread

April 1, 2011

 Last week I mentioned that I hoped to talk about Real Bread some more… and I was lucky enough that John (who made the bread for our supper) invited me to bake some bread with him…

John has been baking real bread for about a year, and has been on lots of courses. He highly recommends the Hobbs House courses, which is where he learnt a lots of his skills and got the recipes for the following breads.

He hopes to open his own bakery one day, and he has impressive plans… I just hope it’s near me because it is going to be amazing!

We made so much…

First we made a dough to make a seeded wholemeal loaf, which we then mixed in John’s amazing kitchen aid (I want one!)

Which is baked in a traditional basket to give the bread its shape and look.

The lines are from the basket. We haven’t actually tried this bread yet, it has gone in the freezer I am determined not to waste a crumb of what we made and we couldn’t have possibly have eaten it all this week.

It’s going to be great toasted with some marmalade!

You can do this at home without a mixed or a special oven… try this recipe from Hobbs House here

Here is the finished product, and something else we made!

Then we made a loaf from scratch, called Cholla, a traditional Jewish bread I think this was my favourite. I have been eating slices of this all week all by itself and the loaf is disappearing fast.

It’s lovely stuff.

It was very easy with very few ingredients… water, flour, eggs, yeast and salt.

We mixed it all up and then smoothed our dough.

Look at this perfect, risen dough! I was so proud.

Then we divided into three and plaited our loaf.

This is the Boy’s perfect plait, mine did not go so well…

Then we glazed with egg and poppy seeds go into the seams and we baked…

The loaves go quite dark because of the egg wash but they are not burnt, they are delicious.

I had a piece of Cholla toast last night, with butter. Best. Toast. Ever.

You can buy this actual recipe from Hobbs House (details at the end of this post) but there are also lots online.

John also very kindly made some dough before we arrived so we could make pizza for our dinner… There is it in his beautiful cherry red kitchen aid;

There are some great pizza dough recipes out there, just have a search. I have been told that this one is foolproof; Everybody Likes Sandwiches

We divided this up and John went through different techniques to make several different types of bread.

This is a tiny ball of dough for my pita bread. With these we rolled them out quickly and till they were very thin…

Then we threw over our wrist and took it to the oven to bake for a couple of minutes.

These are great fun to make, so easy and you can watch them puff up in the oven.

I cannot tell you how much better these are than any other pita I have even eaten.

I want to make a big batch and keep them in the freezer for ready-made snacking.

The same dough also made our pizza bases and a loaf of focaccia… that’s the dough resting in olive oil.

This is John and the Boy making the dough into bases the Italian way…

Another easy make! Again you can freeze these as bases, cook for a few minutes and then keep for when you need them. You can then have fresh pizza anytime you like!

I had to make my peaches pizza again, I love it.

The focaccia was pushed into a square baking tray that had about 1/2 inch of olive oil in (loads basically!) and was then covered in rosemary and baked.

A thing of beauty.

I can tell you at this point we had eaten a lot of pizza and pita and were stuffed but we found room for this baby…

We took all of these goodies home, I now have a beautiful seeded loaf and 2 pitas in my freezer, I did have a focaccia but that is all gone!

My sandwiches this week have been amazing…

… and a Cholla which is disappearing way too fast for my liking.

You can find details of the Hobbs House courses here and everything you need to bake bread at home here plus recipes on Tom Herbert’s blog here.

Read my blog about Real Bread here with information on some local bakeries that are making proper bread.

Do let me know if you try making some bread, your successes, I have yet to try on my own and home but really want to soon, and since I need some more Cholla I have no excuse.

Massive thanks to John for sharing his skills and sending me home with a ton of bread!

Real Bread

March 22, 2011

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, we were fortunate enough to be given homemade real bread for our first supper.

I wanted to dedicate a post to this bread, partly because it was so good so to say thank you to John but also to talk about real bread.

A few words from our baker;

This Sourdough has just three added ingredients, organic flour (from Shipton Mill Gloucestershire), water and Cornish Sea Salt.  Made with a 55 year old rye starter. Naturally occurring yeast from the air and within the flour raises this loaf which is then made over three days to allow maximum flavour and fermentation. The bread is then proved in cane baskets to give it its distinctive shape.”

John moonlights as a baker – baking evenings and early mornings around a desk job in his domestic kitchen – but hopes to be able to give it up and launch an artisan bakery in Bristol over the next few months. (How amazing would this be, another independent bakery in Bristol!)

We used John’s sourdough to make toast to eat with the parfait and for the ricotta toast, mushroom and quail egg vegetarian starter.

Meanwhile I munched some in the kitchen to keep me going serving all the lovely food, with a nice layer of butter. YUM!

It is only really this year that I have really developed a passion for ‘real bread’ and I actually cannot go back to the bread I used to eat from the supermarket now.

The difference I notice physically is that real bread is really fresh the day you get it and gets progressively harder. After the first couple of days it is purely bread for toasting. But this is not a bad thing, it just makes me wonder what the hell goes into the bread I would normally buy that never goes hard, just mouldy.

The biggest difference is in the taste, and how filling real bread is. You only need one slice with your eggs in the morning, any more and you’ll struggle to eat it all!

 I always try to get some at the weekend, and when I do hardly ever eat lunch. Just a proper breakfast and dinner.

My local bakery is Mark’s Bread which I have mentioned many many times! They make about 10 different types of bread, plus croissants, Danish pastries and they have cakes too. They spent weeks perfecting their croissant, and really they could be French, again filling, real and fill you up. Sound like a croissant you can get in the supermarket? Nope!

Others to note in and around Bristol are Harts Bakery in Cotham, The Bertinet Kitchen in Bath and Hobbs House in Chipping Sodbury (available all over Bristol, I get mine at the Sourdough Cafe in St Nicks Market.

If you have more recommendations please let me know!

Try real bread and you won’t go back, I cannot bear to eat the plastic bread anymore.

I will be going to Johns kitchen bakery very soon and making some bread with him, bread that we can all make at home. Very excited about that blog post!


Valentines Cupcakes

February 15, 2011

I have been away for a while, I hope you have missed my updates!

I have been very busy and had no time to cook really let alone blog, I will be able to tell you all later this week if all goes to plan.

So I said I was going to make Valentines cupcakes, and although they were not as elaborate as some I have seen but they were very good…

You need;
for the cakes…
100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
140g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
40g soft unsalted butter
120ml whole milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (although I probably used 3/4 tsp – slip of the hand!)
for the icing…
300g icing sugar, sifted
100g unsalted butter, very soft
40g cocoa powder, sifted
40ml whole milk

Preheat the oven to 170C

Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases

Put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and butter in a large bowl and beat on a slow speed with an electric hand mixer until well combined and a sandy consistency.
This is was so messy!

Whisk the egg, milk and vanilla extract together in a jug and add half to the dry mixture.
Beat slowly to combine and then more quickly to beat out any lumps.

Add the remaining liquid mixture and beat slowly to combine. Do not overmix.

I did a special three for the Boy for a Valentines treat…  I added a little spoonful of nutella for a melty middle but it didn’t work, need to work on that!

Transfer the mixture into the cake cases until 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven until they spring back to the touch. A skewer inserted should come out clean.

For the frosting, beat the butter, sugar and cocoa powder together until well combined. The mixture will be crumbly.

Add the milk and beat to combine. The mixture will come together into a big lump. Keep beating for a few minutes, you will see it get lighter in colour and texture.

Spoon or pipe onto the cupcakes.

Then enjoy!

I decorated mine with little edible hearts!

A little note, you could probably double up the cake mixture as this is way too much icing for the cakes made, or you could adjust your icing mix.

 This recipe was sent to me by Sarah at Anubis Therapies (@AnubisTherapies on Twitter) after she made it and I comment on how amazing it sounded… so I made it!

It was one of my girlfriends birthdays last week so decided, as she was coming for dinner, I would make her this as a birthday cake…

You need;
225g Butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
225g golden b sugar
4 eggs, beaten
250g self-raising flour, sifted
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
25g ground almonds
200g fresh blueberries
Optional Topping:
Juice of 2 lemons
115g caster sugar

 Preheat the oven to 180ºC and grease and line the base of a 20-cm/8 inch cake tin. 

 1. Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. 

 2. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little of the flour towards the end to prevent curdling. 

 3. Beat in the lemon rind, then fold in the remaining flour and almonds with enough of the lemon juice to give a good dropping consistency.

 4. Fold in three-quarters of the blueberries and turn into the prepared tin. Smooth the surface, then scatter the remaining blueberries on top and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour or until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Drizzle Topping:
To make the topping, place the lemon juice and sugar in a bowl and mix together. 
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, prick it all over with a fine skewer and pour over the lemon mixture. 
Leave to cool in the tin until completely cold…

And if you’re feeling really naughty serve with some cream!