Pancakes with Herman

herman pancakes 1

I use google analytics on my blog. Fair enough, right? I like reading the stats on google analytics and it motivates me to keep on writing. As admissions go, that may not shock regular bloggers.

The statistic that has taken me by surprise, recently, is that my entry on Herman, introducing him as a red-headed, german, adolescent, is the second most widely read entry on my blog. *face screwed up in consternation* Strangely, I feel a bit vulnerable that my random musings on Herman have been so widely read. Isn’t that a weird response to have for a blogger?

So, with this blog entry on herman pancakes, I’m trying to roll with the punches, go with the flow, give you what you’ve been asking for… you get my drift. I’m caving into social network peer pressure, manning up and presenting you with another Herman recipe.

Ingredients for about 12 Herman pancakes, adapted from allrecipes.

  • 120g plain flour (or 1 cup)
  • ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup of Herman
  • ⅓ cup sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup milk


1. Measure out the dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Make a small well in the middle of it and add in herman, the oil, eggs and milk. Mix thoroughly. Alternatively, add all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and let it mix thoroughly. I got a Bamix as an early Christmas present and took great delight in putting it to good use 🙂

If you can’t eat it all in one go, the pancake mixture will keep in your fridge for up to 3-4 days, in this current state.

2. Heat a thick bottomed, non-stick frying pan on a low-medium heat. Add in a little bit of oil, then pour in a ladleful or enough mixture for the size of pancake that you’d like, making sure that it’s at least 0.5 mm thick. Leave it to cook – you know it’s time to turn it over when a. the mixture is bubbling up and 2. the bottom is brown. Flip it over to cook on the other side until the pancake is cooked through. On the heat setting I use, it normally takes between 1-2 minutes.

small frying pan herman pancake

(Ignore the schmützig stove top)

Top Tip: I like to use a small frying pan because I think it produces the perfect size of pancake. The low-medium heat setting for pancakes works perfectly because it’s hot enough to cook but not burn. Why not experiment with what works best for you.

3. Serve it up and eat warm. I like mine with fruit or honey.

The verdict? It’s worth bearing in mind, that this is an american style pancake so thicker and puffier than it’s european cousins. Jamie has a much simpler recipe for a similar effect, so I revert to his recipe now. Having said that this recipe makes a yummy breakfast pancake (as long as it’s not burnt). It’s sweet enough to eat plain, the mixture will keep for a few days, and so a good use of Herman. One thing that I remember with Herman is that I never had enough recipes for what to do him. This was one of my staples because it wasn’t so calorific.

herman pancakes 2

A Carrot, Sultana and Pinenut Cake with a secret – he’s Herman!

carrot, sultana, pinenut muffins
This is my favourite Herman cake recipe because it is so flavoursome and moist.

I have never been honoured with so many requests for this recipe from foodies, which confirms my suspicions that this is the BEST variation on Herman cake. So, here it is, by popular demand. (Plus, this medium has the added benefit of being far more convenient than sending the recipe multiple times via text or email to my colleagues and friends who have been asking me for this recipe.)

This cake is a wonderful example of how you can improvise successfully when baking (another example would be the Courgette and Walnut Cake). This time, I made the mistake of putting baking powder in the wrong bowl of mini herman, had run out of apples and was thus forced to improvise an alternative Herman cake, with ingredients I had on hand. Thus, the delicious Carrot, Sultana and Pinenut Cake was born, and proved far tastier than it’s apple/pear and cranberry counterpart.

The inspiration for the pinenuts is probably from my love of korean and italian cuisine: it would appear to be a popular ingredient in both countries. Essentially, it is the pinenuts that make this cake what it is, so please don’t scrimp and omit them.

Perhaps some of you, who have tended to Herman for a few cycles, have similar sentiments to my own towards Herman. I find it restricting to be tied into baking a Herman cake every 10 or so days. Then the thought of baking the same cake over and over again, kills the joy of baking with such a quirky ingredient. I’ve spoken to enough of you herman cake bakers to know that you empathise with my need to deviate from the standard apple/cinammon/sultana cake. So, for all of you attentive Herman carers out there, this is a recipe is dedicated to you.


  • one measure of Herman (a cup)
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 100g demerara sugar
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten (see note below referring to doubling the recipe)
  • 100ml vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 2 large or 3 small grated carrots, which is approx. anything between 150g-200g.
  • 50g pinenuts
  • 50g sultanas

Note: For a double batch, rather than use 4 eggs, I did the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda trick of substituting an egg. Austerity measures are required when baking endless cycles of Hermans.


1. I like to soak the sultanas first by putting them in a small heatproof bowl and covering them with boiling water. If you’re super-organised, then do this a few hours beforehand. This will mean that your sultanas are plump and juicy once baked, rather than dry and hard.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and line a 2lb loaf tin, or line a muffin tin with paper cases. I think that it will make about 18 muffins, depending on how high you fill the cases.

3. Measure out the flour, sugar and spices and make a well in the middle. Add in Herman, the vegetable oil and the beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly.

dry ingredients hermanadding hermancarrot cake herman batter
4. Drain the sultanas and add the sultanas to the mixture, along with the grated carrots and pinenuts. Give it a good mix.

herman loaf tinherman muffin tin
5. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake in the middle of the oven for about 50 minutes, or until the cake tester comes out clean. Check at 40 minutes and if the top is browning too quickly, cover it with baking paper or foil. If you are going to make the muffins, then dollop a tablespoon of mixture in each of the cases. This way, there’ll be space to put on the optional cream cheese frosting. Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, or until the cake tester comes out clean. Leave the cake/muffins to cool for 5 minutes and then let it cool completely on a wire rack.

The verdict?

Delicious, served on its own or with a dollop of icecream/greek yoghurt. I’ve frozen the muffins for another occasion and planning on topping them with a plain cream cheese frosting.

herman familydressing for work
On Sunday morning, I baked a double batch of this and produced a wee family of these cakes. In addition to the loaf tin, the mini muffin tin came out, and I borrowed some normal sized muffin tins from a friend. Later on the Monday, I dressed the loaf for work.

And what happened to Herman?

Well, Herman lives on in my flat: I didn’t have the heart to finish him off this weekend. I baked a double quantity of my favourite Herman recipe (the carrot, sultana and pinenut cake) and prepared batter for Herman pancakes before I realised that I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to Herman… yet.

p.s I couldn’t help but notice that Herman has been featured on the Guardian‘s Life and Style recently. It’s amusing how a yeasty goo mixture has madeit onto a national paper. I give props to Lizzie Enfield for pushing my teenage, red-haired, kitchen inhabitantinto the limelight. At some point I mean to write a blog post, entitled ‘100 days of Herman’ with photos of the various Hermans I’ve produced, from pancakes to streusel coffee cake (thanks allrecipes), by way of celebration. It would have be retrospective given that the 100 day mark has already passed us by. Watch this space.

Herman, the friendship cake.

Let me introduce you to Herman. He’s been living in my kitchen for a few months.

herman growing

If that hasn’t put you off, then read on.

Herman is a sourdough starter cake, aka Amish Friendship cake. David first described him to me, when one of his colleagues gave him a Herman:

David: “So, I leave him out in a bowl on the side for a few days. I have to talk to him! And feed him with milk, flour and sugar.

Me: “Can’t you put him in the fridge? Won’t the milk go off? Why do you have to leave him out?”…

A few days later, David told me that he has gotten rid of Herman. Herman was smelly and had been cluttering his worktop.

If I can be frank with you. I’d suggest that David’s colleague misjudged him in thinking that David and Herman would pair up well. David is a good cook but a ‘meat and 2 veg’ kind of guy. So, this type of cake didn’t stand much of a chance with him.

Well, a few weeks later, Emily asked me if I’d heard of Herman. She had one growing in her kitchen and reported that the herman cake she’d tried was alright. She was still alive, and proof that eating Herman is somewhat safe, even with the souring milk. So, I asked her if she’d entrust me to look after a mini Herman.

By this time, Herman had taken on a personality of epic proportions in my imagination. Naturally, he was german, with spiky red hair, freckles and (as he smells) adolescent.

I duly took care of my Herman and made it through 2 cycles until I went on holiday. I gave him away and thought that was the last of Herman.

Not so. One of my colleagues presented me with Herman at the end of the summer and, as you know, Herman is thriving in my flat. I think that he’s taken to my warm kitchen: he keeps bubbling away. I stir him once or twice a day and cover him with a tea towel so that he doesn’t dry out. As I don’t want to be forced to make a Herman cake every 10 days, I’m fairly relaxed about his feeding and will delay it a day or so, to draw out the cycle. Admittedly, he does smell of yeast. I’m looking forward to this next cycle as his penultimate one with me because I’d quite like to use that plastic bowl and wooden spoon for something else and reclaim the space he takes up on my worktop.

Herman is a great topic of conversation. He is a bit like marmite: people are either allured or repulsed by him. Nevertheless, everyone likes to eat him. Herman adds a tanginess to the cake and he does taste yummy, even if the texture is on the denser side. Below, I’ve given you the most common recipe, a cinnamon and apple version, with a wee makeover. However, my favourite is my carrot, pinenut and sultana cake.

There are a number of different Herman stories out there. This is my favourite one, which I have adapted.

Herman is a friendship cake which you cannot buy but can give away. Herman is alive and grows slowly but surely because of a yeasting process. It takes 10 days before you can eat him.

DO NOT put in the fridge as he grows at room temperature. You do not need a lid, just cover the bowl with a tea towel.

DAY 1: Today Herman is given to you. Congratulations, you must have a friend. Pour him into a big bowl so he can grow.

DAY 2: Stir Herman 2 or 3 times each day using a wooden spoon. You can leave the spoon in the bowl.

DAY 3: Stir Herman and talk to him.

DAY 4: Herman is hungry! You must feed him with:

  • 200ml milk
  • 150g plain flour
  • 200g granulated sugar

DAY 5: Stir Herman

DAY 6: Stir Herman. He really appreciates your visits.

DAY 7: Stir Herman

DAY 8: Stir Herman. Are you still talking to him?

DAY 9: Herman is hungry again! Feed him as Day 4.

Having been fed, he now needs to be split into equal little Hermans. Give away 4 of the little Hermans and a copy of these instructions.

DAY 10: Your remaining little Herman is absolutely starving after all that!

(experiment with different Herman cake recipes, such as carrot cake, streusel topped herman cake, apple cake – see below for my adaptations on the most common version)

Herman would now like to go to a hot resort, the oven will do. Preheat it to 170C (which is between 3 and 4 on a gas mark oven). With everything mixed in, pour him into a lined deeped baking tin. Leave him at the resort for about an hour. After all this care, attention and nurturing … eat him!!!

herman apple cinnamon cake

Ingredients for Herman Apple, Sultana and Cinnamon Cake (makes between 16-25 servings)

  • 1 measure of Herman (a cup)
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 150g sugar (tastier with demerara sugar)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 100g fine chopped nuts or a mix of dried fruit, such as sultanas, cranberries, cherries, apricots…
  • 2 chopped or grated apples – I think that it’s tastier when chopped to approx. 1.5cm sized chunks because it tastes like an apple cake
  • 100ml oil


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Line a deep 25cm square baking tin. I like to use my pampered chef square stone because I don’t need to bother lining it with baking paper.

Top tip: use a baking tin, it is better than a loaf tin. When I used a loaf or cake tin, the cake took much longer to bake and was a bit heavy. The cake I made in the pampered chef stone (baking tin would do the same) was tastier and lighter. Moreover, it would have taken much less time but I hadn’t misread the oven temperature and baked it at 130C! Oooops-a-daisy.

2. You can add all the ingredients and mix it thoroughly.

or, Alternatively, I found it easier to measure out the dry ingredients, then make a small well in the middle and add the oil, eggs and the mini herman and mix thoroughly. Lastly, add the chopped apples and dried fruit or nuts (or both) to the mixture and combine well.

3. With everything mixed in, pour him into a lined deep 25cm baking tin.

4. Now, to make the sugar/butter glaze. I highly recommend this step. It seems a bit weird thing to do and I had some doubts when I was pouring the melted butter over the cake batter. But the glaze really moistens the cake and enrichensthe flavour.

Ingredientsfor the glaze

  • 50g dark muscovado sugar (demerara sugar also works)
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • sprinkle cinnamon on top (optional)
  • pecan or walnut halves to decorate on top

Crumble the sugar evenly over the top of the cake and sprinkle over with cinnamon. Pour the melted butter evenly over the batter. I tipped the sides of my square stone to ensure an even spread. Decorate the top with the pecan or walnut halves. Last time, I used 16 pecans but the portions were rather on the big side, so I’d use 25 next time.

prebaked herman apple cake

glaze topping

5. Now, it’s time to send Herman on holiday to a hot resort (namely the oven) for 45-60 minutes. Check on him at half time and if he looks like he is browning too quickly on the top, then cover him loosely with baking paper or foil to prevent him burning. I guess it acts like a sun umbrella, if we’re to continue the holiday metaphor. Herman is ready when you test him in the middle with a clean, sharp knife and it comes out clean. Let him cool for at least 10 minutes in the tin before cutting him up into squares.


herman apple cake

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