Monday, 13 August 2012
Apple sourdough cake (a.k.a. Herman The German)
Every month, my charity colleagues and I have a team meeting; the main purpose being to discuss how much we've kicked cancer's arse that month and how we're going to go about kicking it the following month. The secondary purpose is to eat our own body weight in biscuits, discuss books we've read and whinge about how much we hate going to Birmingham for training.
Last meeting, my colleague Lou handed me a margarine container of goo and introduced it as 'Herman the German'. "What the fuck?", I said. Actually I didn't, this was work and I at least try to maintain a modicum of manners and professionalism. "Er, what is it?" I said. "It's Herman the German!", she exclaimed, as if I was the one making no sense. I open the container and my new mate, Herman, quite frankly, resembles a container of baby sick (I've never been in close contact with baby sick, but I have it on good authority that it's rank). He also smells like the floor of a brewery that hasn't been cleaned for decades. Or your mouth when you wake up with a very bad hangover.
Herman, I come to learn, is essentially a sourdough starter, which you stir, feed and eventually divide, dispense to friends and bake into a cake. Basically it's a chain letter for gluttons. You are thankfully given instructions on how to care for your Herman - pin these on the fridge, as above, to look like you've got a purpose in life. Apparently you're meant to follow these rules religiously, but unfortunately I've never been very religious, not even when it comes to baking, so my instructions were more like the following...
Day one: Forget, leave in the car, then be met by an appalling stench the next day
Day two: Stir
Day three: Forget
Day four: Stir
Day five: Fuck have run out of milk, Herman will have to starve
Day six: And sugar
Day seven: Finally add ingredients
Day nine, ten, eleven - twenty: Keep stirring as don't have time to make bloody cake
Day twenty: Add extra ingredients, divide, realise is going to be ages till you see anyone who bakes
Day twenty one: See friend, Me: "I've got you a present!", Friend: "Oh god, it's not that fucking cake thing is it?"
Day lost count: See mother, "I've got you a present!", Mother: "Oh god, it's not that fucking cake thing is it?"
Yesterday: Ritually sacrificed Herman and baked him alive into delicious fancy
Now: Still have a portion of goo, realise have no friends, eat whole cake in state of depression
So, conclusive evidence is that as long as you don't put it in the fridge, this thing is pretty hard to murder.
For all the ball ache, it's actually a pretty nice cake. Or it is as long as you ignore the recipe and take out the EVIL RAISINS FROM THE SEVENTH CIRCLE OF HELL. My only other tweak to the recipe was to add a maple drizzle; in a bowl mix maple syrup with icing sugar, bit by bit, until you have a good drizzling consistency (the same proportions you would use of sugar to water when making standard fairy cake icing), and, er, drizzle. You don't need much, so make it in a small portion, and don't get too gun-ho with the maple syrup as that stuff's freaking expensive.
If you're the only person in this hemisphere yet to be presented with your own container of baby vom, then the website also tells you how to make your own starter. Alternatively, if you live in Norwich, then I have another batch bubbling away like the Sanctum of Slime, and will gladly give it to you - I've had enough of my flat reeking like a sicked-up tin of Tennants Super.