Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Herman The German Friendship Cake - AKA Helga, Part 1

Well this is not really a cake recipe - yet.  This is how you begin the journey which results in the Friendship cake.  And I don't call her Herman; to me she is Helga.  Helga grows and expands, and is handed on to others in a continuing circle of cakes and loaves... Phew, I am getting a bit over the top there.

The Helga plant (as some call it) was given to me by a friend who had received it from a friend, and so on.  Helga is a sour-dough starter in fact, so that is why your kitchen ends up smelling like a brewery for the 10 days that you nurture her before divvying up and giving to friends - and making that cake.

shy little Helga on her first day with us   

On Helga's first day chez Pickings, I placed her in a large ceramic mixing bowl and covered her with a tea towel so she could ruminate in private.  The house began to smell like the XXXX beer factory just down the road from where we used to live.

On Day 2 and on  Day 3, you have a peek and then give her a good stir.  Cover her back up with the tea towel and let her sit and think again.

Helga is bubbling and growing and smelling  

On Day 4, you have to give Helga a feed.  So grab 1 cup each of plain flour, milk and sugar.  Stir them in well, and cover her up again.  She is a modest lady, and likes her privacy.  Her yeasty aroma will be enticing you and all your visitors by this stage.  Give them a peek if you really like them.

Day 4 - this is when you feed and stir Helga     

feeding the hungry gal   

Day 5 - give her a good stir - she loves it:=) 

Days 5, 6, 7 and 8 are the same old, same old - give her a good stir and cover her up again.  No need to do anything else at this point. Just enjoy the heady, bready, yeasty atmosphere.  

Day 6 - dig that spoon in and stir

Day 7 - yep stir again       

Day 8 - more stirring  

Day 9 is a big day!  You have to add 1 cup each of flour, sugar and milk again.  Then give her a big stir.  And then you divvy her up into 4 equal portions.

tip in the flour, sugar and milk

give it all a big stir  

divvy her up into 4 equal portions 

I got 4 portions of around 340g. each.  I kept one aside for Day 10 when Helga got turned into a cake, and the other 3 went into the freezer.  I know this may sound shocking to some, 'cos you are strictly told NEVER to put Helga in the fridge while the 10 day process is happening but this (into the freezer) you can do.

3 portions into the freezer for other cakes  

You can of course just hand over the starter to 3 friends with the instructions, but I want to make a few other cakes so I am keeping these 3 for now.  And my portion for making Helga went back on the bench with the towel over her till the next day.  (She needed to recover from the separation anxiety of being divvied up.)

On Day 10 you make the cake!  So stay tuned for Part 2 when Helga becomes a toothsome cake-y reality.

my milk doodle 


  1. Dear God I admire your patience Sherry. Sometimes I wish I could be covered with a tea towel and left alone for days on end, just like Helga LOL.

    1. Ha ha Jem:). You made me chuckle. Yes that would be lovely wouldn't it?

  2. Great work Sherry! Impressed with the whole journey of this love affair💞💞💞 await the conclusion with baited breath! Pia

  3. Oh yes - I remember my brother getting one of these school many moons ago. You kept making it until you could find no one to give it to or you got sick of the cake. Obviously no one thought of your brilliant idea of freezing it

    1. well it supposedly still works after being in the freezer; in fact I hear that it may be even better and stronger! we shall see when i make another cake i have in mind.

  4. Great job with Helga!! Mine died before I could make it into a cake but I can't wait to hear how your cake went! :D

    1. that's funny lorraine. your poor helga. i was very pleased that she survived 10 days with me.:)


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