“Vegan potential?” I hear you ask. Well, yes. My Herman cake can never be vegan, because he was drinking cow’s milk when I got him, and even if I started feeding him almond milk or soy milk now, he would always be some tiny portion dairy. But this Herman cake is egg-free, so if you have a Herman that was raised on non-dairy milks, you could make a vegan cake from him.
And if you are going to make a vegan Herman, I can really recommend this one. It’s lovely and tangy from the lemon and pomegranates, but is also lushly strawberry. Also, you get to play Superfood Bingo, because I’m pretty sure chia seeds, pomegranates and anything sourdough is superfood-ish. If you used coconut sugar instead of raw caster sugar, all the better.
What more could you want from a cake?
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2 tbsp white chia seeds
6 tbsp water
1 cup of Herman sourdough starter
2/3 cup raw caster sugar or coconut sugar
2 cups self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup canola oil
zest and juice of two really good lemons
500 g strawberries, hulled, and either halved or quartered, depending on size
2/3 cup (about 50 – 60g freeze-dried pomegranate seeds
Now what will you do with it?
First, soak your chia seeds in the water. Most recipes suggest somehow turning the chia seeds into meal, but I pounded mine in a mortar and pestle for several minutes and got nowhere, and my cake seems to be fine, so I reckon you can just soak them. They will turn into a very thick, gelatinous, seedy goop, which will do the important egg-job of helping the cake stick together. (Not that they will want to do this. Chia seeds are very un-co-operative beasties and do not want to mingle with the neighbours. They are not joiners.)
Pre-heat your oven to 180°C, and line a 20cm tin and a small loaf tin (about 20cm by 10cm) with baking paper.
Put your chia seeds in a big bowl with Herman, the sugar, the flour and baking powder, the oil, and the lemon zest and juice. Mix it all together well – this will be difficult initially, as the chia seeds will be quite stiff and clumpy, but they will disperse through the mixture given time. And yes, that is an alarming grey colour – but it comes out in the cooking (the pomegranate seeds help).
Add the strawberries and freeze-dried pomegranate seeds to the mixture, and use a spatula to fold in. This will turn the mixture a little bit pink.
Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for about an hour, or until the cakes pass the skewer test.
Turn out on a rack to cool – if you try to slice this cake while it is still warm it will make a huge mess, so try to exercise self-restraint (I know it’s hard…).
This cake is nut-free, egg-free, and, aside from the initial Herman, dairy-free, so it is vegetarian with possible veganity thrown in. It is not gluten-free. It’s quite good for FODMAPs, assuming you have been feeding Herman spelt flour or the like. It’s not low GI.
The pomegranates were just a bonus – I happened to have them in my freezer, so I decided to throw them in. You could substitute chopped dried apricots – yes, they taste totally different, but they do go well with strawberries and lemon – or freeze-dried blueberries, or dried cranberries, or walnuts or pecans. Or chocolate chips, if that floats your boat. Strawberries can be swapped out for other berries, and the lemon for other citrus. Blueberry and lime cake might be a nice variation, especially with coconut sugar (or coconut oil, or shredded coconut). Raspberry and orange would be lovely. The world is really your oyster. (Do not add oysters to this cake. Especially if you are trying to make it vegan. Or tasty.)