Sunday, 26 September 2010

When sour becomes sweet: a tale of friendship and sugar

Approximately two aeons ago, my lovely friend Cie gave me a true proof of our friendship. 'Do not kill' said the accompanying note. 'Failure to look after this embodiment of our friendship will bring my wrath and everlasting disappointment upon you.' It didn't of course; Cie is far too nice for that, but when she had to gently rescue Herman the friendship cake sourdough starter she had just given me from suffocation before we'd even left the pub I felt the pressure start to mount.

You've heard of sourdough bread starters? Well Herman is a sourdough cake starter. He is one hungry boy, however, and he also had a very sweet tooth. He needed feeding a whole cup each of sugar, flour and milk every three days, and a good stir on the intervening days. Thankfully he started to grow and bubble quite soon, so I had some regular reassurance that Cie was not going to have to unfriend me on facebook. He is also quite adaptable - my Herman was fed soya milk and a variety of different flours as well. Never able to resist tasting raw cake dough I was initially put off by his sour taste, but as the days went on he got progressively sweeter until at last, a week later, Baking Day arrived.

Herman, after a week of eating a lot of sugar

Herman is a friendship cake because you only use a quarter of the starter to make your cake, and pass the other three on to other people. Herman comes with a recipe for the finished cake, but with plenty of room to play with optional add-ins. I added white chocolate and - you guessed it if you can remember back that far - fresh raspberries. The final touch is some melted butter poured over the top which I must admit made him smell absolutely heavenly.

I took our Herman and one of his Herman progeny to some old college friends the next day. Their children were excited at the idea of their own Herman but didn't like the smell of the baked version - I like to think their foodie noses were picking up on the sourdough yeast smell. We were too full to eat him after lunch, but he got some good feedback later on.

And so, the buck was passed, my friendship with Cie was approved, and a few more of those raspberries met their cakey maker.

The End.


Cie said...

Hehehe - made me giggle...

(And we'll agree not to tell Alice, who gave me my starter, about how I almost killed him on my bus and train journey home...) :D


nic@nipitinthebud said...

cripes that takes me back 25+ years. Sunday tea time as a child was sandwiches followed by cake. Sometimes chocolate cake, sometimes cherry and then Herman came to stay. We loved it at first but week after week for what seemed like years killed our love for this old boy!

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