A friend of ours brought round some friendship cake starter dough, which we’ve been looking after. Basically you follow the instructions that come with it for ten days – add ingredients on certain days, stir on certain days – and then on the second last day you divide it up into four portions, give away three portions with the instructions, and bake up the remaining portion.

I first came across this online somewhere, but it wasn’t a very positive account of it…In fact a few more blogs and comments I read basically described Herman (that is what he calls himself in the instructions) as a chain-letter bread from hell…So when Gareth announced that our friend had brought round some friendship cake (cake / bread seem to be interchangeable when referring to Herman) and was giving us some to grow ourselves, I was understandably dubious.

Here were these other people ranting about how their homes were being consumed by a yeast monster, stories of friends sneaking starter portions into other friends’ homes and handbags, losing the will to live if they have to eat any more of it let alone look after and bake the stuff…and now it was about to invade our home. I said I wasn’t going to have anything to do with the stuff. Gareth said he’d be in charge of it, that he was proud of me for taking a stand, and that he’d support my refusing to eat any of the cake once it was baked. I said I’d be willing to try some for the sake of objectivity.

Anyway, I’m a soft touch, and by about day three I’d grown quite fond of Herman bubbling away quietly in his bowl.
2012-02-05 Herman 01

Apparently a lot of the instructions say not to use a metal bowl or stirrer, but our instructions didn’t say anything of the sort so we just went for our wider mixing bowl.

Here is Herman on the final day, eating up flour and other ingredients before being baked.
2012-02-05 Herman 02

I think a lot of the drama in the not-so-positive accounts come from the guilt of not being able to give away the three other portions. So one either bakes up far too much, or worries about the Consequences of Breaking The Chain, that has apparently been going on since ancient times. Gareth has confirmed he has no qualms whatsoever about pouring the rest of it down the sink. I have to remind him sometimes to have some tact, as Herman was right within earshot!

And here is the finished product. Well, it is almost finished up now as I forgot to take a picture when he was done, so this is the last few slices. It has raisins and apples in it, and is very yummy.
2012-02-11 Herman 03

So we gave away two portions, baked up one, and kept another portion to grow a Herman the Second. We may or may not have any takers for the other portions, but we’ll just bake up one – a banana and chocolate variety we think. A nice little end to a visit from our little friend Herman. Nom nom nom…

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