Squatters in the Kitchen

Although neither me nor my flatmate like pets / animals in general (shock! gasp! horror!), particularly (speaking for myself here) when it comes to cleaning their bodily excretions and breathing in their smell and dealing with the loss of breath and painful eyes engendered by their hair loss and… oops, I’m ranting. Pretend this didn’t happen.

So, for the past 10 days, we’ve been taking care of our pet cake mix. Needing daily attention and sporadic feeding, this latest addition to our household bubbled away nicely. But behind his innocent (albeit alcoholic-smelling) facade was lurking a sinister fear: what if he dies?! For you see, this was not just any yeasty sourdough mixture, this was

Herman the German Friendship Cake

And as everyone knows, if you kill a friendship cake mix, you’re pretty much taking an axe to your friendship with s/he who gave Herman to you in the first place.

If you are unfamiliar with this annoying chain-letter sweetly endearing and nice-tasting cake-mix, you look after a cake mix for 10 days (a specific recipe, you understand, this won’t work with your standard black magic cake for example), and it grows (unless you kill him) into a big cake-mix, ready to be divided into 4, distributed to 3 friends, and then baked. If you don’t have 3 friends, you can always make 2 cakes for yourself (I would like to clarify that I do have more than 2 friends, it’s just they’re not in Glasgow at the moment and/or were not willing to commit to giving Herman the time and care he deserves [i.e. were going away for a few days]).

Once it’s your time to bake, you can follow the basic recipe or throw in whatever you like – in one of mine, I changed it to half a cup of sugar and added a tsp of mixed spice; in the other, I added 80g of chopped white chocolate and half a cup of blueberries, left out the apples and raisins and spices and didn’t top with melted butter and sugar; but it’s totally up to you.

Sweet Blueberry and White Chocolate Herman
Original Appley-cinnamony Herman
Original Appley-Cinnamony Herman


You’ll be given the instructions along with your Herman (the only change I’d make other than your own substitutions is to bake for 30 minutes, then cover with tinfoil and bake for another 30 minutes until a cocktail stick can be inserted in the middle and will come out clean), but if you just can’t wait to spread the Herman love, a starter recipe which I found at the aforementioned pdf is:

5oz plain flour
8oz castor sugar
1 packet of active dry yeast
Half a pint of warm milk
2 fl oz. lukewarm water

  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. Now proceed from day one of the 10 day cycle.

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