I have a Herman the German sourdough cake starter! Does anyone want one? (No, seriously, I mean it – Herman is a delightful fellow, but I think he was a Tribble in a past life, and as a result, one must constantly find new Herman acolytes who want a Friendship Cake bubbling away on their benchtop during the week…)
Anyway, he’s a lovely, healthy, vibrant Herman – I think he really likes brown sugar, because he froths and bubbles with enthusiasm at the slightest provocation – and he made me a lovely apple cake with the original recipe a couple of weeks back, but one cannot live on apple cake alone, and also, I found his apple cake rather sweet, so I decided to have a bit of a play with what was in the pantry, and see what happened.
The first thing in my pantry was an awful lot of almond meal left over from last week’s baking extravaganza, as well as a couple of spoonfuls of chocolate-coated coriander seeds, which I had forgotten to add to one of my recipes. An interesting start. Apricots and almonds are a natural fit, and I felt that apricot and coriander also gets along fairly well – and I also had somehow acquired no fewer than three half-empty packets of dried apricots, so that seemed to be an obvious choice already. I still needed some ‘wet’ fruit, and I’ve got a surprising number of tins and bottles of peaches lurking around the place, so they seemed like the best idea for that. At this point, I gleefully remembered my peach schnapps, and got that out, too.
Does this combination work? You know, I can’t decide. I love, love, love the zings of coriander with the dried apricots, but the peach is perhaps a little wet for my taste. And the whole thing tastes so very alcoholic, far past what I would expect for that amount of schnapps. On the other hand, all the Germans in my lab absolutely adored this, and said it tasted like a proper German cake (“Like Stollen, only not dry”), so evidently it works for some tastes, if not for mine. I think next time, I’d use fresh peaches, however. And maybe a bit of cardamom in the batter. See what you think.
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250 – 300ml Herman starter (i.e., about a quarter of your Herman on day 10 after his second feed on day 9)
2/3 cups sugar – any kind, but I used half castor and half coconut sugar
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
160 ml canola oil
2 tablespoons peach schnapps, + 2 more tablespoons for the glaze
400 ml tinned or bottled sliced peaches, which you probably should chop, but I didn’t
1 cup dried apricots, ditto
10 g coriander seeds in milk chocolate. Or just a teaspoon of coriander seeds, just for fun.
115 g icing sugar
Now what will you do with it?
Line a 23cm square cake tin with baking paper, and pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Combine everything except the glaze ingredients in a big bowl, and stir together well. If you are me, you will be mildly sensible about this and combine things in a two or three batches, leaving the peaches, apricots and coriander until last, but really, this dough will mix together fairly easily.
Scrape the batter into your prepared tin, and bake for around an hour, or until cooked through.
Let cool for fifteen minutes in the tin, before turning onto a wire rack to cool.
To make the glaze, combine the icing sugar and schnapps in a small bowl, and drizzle over the cooled cake.
Serve! To a large number of people, because this cake is huge!
This cake is vegetarian, but that’s about all it has going for it in the allergy department. Herman himself has cow’s milk in his batter – you could probably raise a Herman on almond milk or soy milk, but if you’ve received him from a friend who eats dairy, he will not be a vegan Herman. I’m not sure if you could make him gluten-free – you could make him low FODMAP by feeding him only on spelt flour, but this recipe is full of stone fruit which are not your FODMAP friend, so pick a different Herman option if you do that. You can eliminate the nuts from this by swapping out the almond meal for plain flour, so at least that’s something. The eggs should be swappable for something – I shall experiment with a future Herman incarnation.
In terms of flavour, really, the world is your oyster. There is a whole website devoted to Herman variations, so I think on this occasion, I will direct you there.