When I was in New Zealand earlier this year, I stayed with a lovely lady called Val, who introduced me to Herman the German Friendship cake. Val was only part way through the 10-day cycle of making the cake, so I wasn’t able to join in with the fun. Besides which, I was travelling at the time, so it wasn’t very convenient.
Herman the German is a sourdough cake, often received from a friend as a “starter mix” and which sits on your kitchen counter for ten days, bubbling away, covered with a tea towel. Along with your starter mix, you also receive written instructions on how to proceed. On the tenth day, you divide the mixture to share with your friends, and bake your cake.
To be honest, since returning home to Spain from New Zealand, I’d forgotten all about Herman.
A few weeks ago, Sue, a FB friend and fellow expat blogger from Extremadura in Spain, asked if anyone was interested in sharing some of her starter dough for Herman’s Spanish equivalent: Bizcocho de las Carmelitas Descalzas de Sevilla (The Barefoot Carmelite nuns of Seville cake). I should imagine you were wondering where the nuns came into it!
Anyway, how could I refuse?
All we had to figure out now was how she would get the starter mix to me when we live about 500 kilometres apart!
Fate stepped in – in the form of The Open-Air Theatre Project, a small, rural community from the Alpujarra mountains in southern Spain with their dream of building an open-air theatre. To cut a long story short, Sue was on her way to meet up with the group, and she kindly diverted from her route to deliver my starter cake-mix, together with a sheet of instructions in Spanish (of course).
She also brought me five jars of the most delicious home-made plum, cherry, fig and loquat jam. YUMMY!
How lucky am I?
As soon as I got home from meeting Sue, I tipped the bubbling dough mix into a large pot bowl, covered it with a tea towel and, over the next ten days, followed the written instructions to the letter – sometimes adding ingredients, often doing nothing.
Today is the tenth day – so, this morning I set about dividing the mixture into four, in order to be able to give away three “starter mix” portions to friends and neighbours, added the extra ingredients and made my cake!
If you want to have a try yourself, you can get the recipe for Herman the German cake by CLICKING HERE. Don’t worry if you don’t have
any friends anyone to give you the starter mix. You can always start the cake off, yourself, but I really liked the idea of the sharing bit. If you live near me and would like one of my starter kits, let me know!
Herman’s Spanish sister cake can be found by Googling “Bizcocho de las Carmelitas Descalzas de Sevilla”, choose one of the links and click on “translate this page” and Bob’s your Uncle – so to speak!
MY TOP TIP: After cooking for 45 minutes, take the cake out of the oven, cover with foil to prevent the top from burning, and pop back into the oven for a further 15 – 20 minutes to make sure the middle is cooked well enough.
So – should Seville’s barefoot nuns have faith in my cake-baking skills?
I think so – but I’d love to know what you think!
Pingback: Extremadura, Spain: Halfway stop to Portugal | Our Travels Around The Globe
My dear cousin in Barcelona brought some starter dough with her when she visited last month. Yummy cake and fun to share. If you bake it in a Bundt pan, you do not need additonal baking time. We like to add almond or vanilla extract, brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts. Chocolate chips work nicely too!
I love the FUN element of sharing this cake mix. I guess half of the fun is that you can add whatever ingredients you like to make it truly YOURS 🙂
Thanks for your comment, Annette. Much appreciated.
Yum! Wish you lived closer! 🙂 🙂
I’ve given away my spares now, and passed the mantle to the next bakers 🙂
Fab cake and fab friend; those homemade jams look good
We are on our second jar of Sue’s jam – the plum was delicious and the loquat (what we call nispero in Spain) is equally tasty! She is the Queen of the Jam-Makers 🙂
Your efforts were well rewarded, Marianne. The cake turned out really well. Great photos! 🙂
Thanks Sylvia, and enjoy your cruise 🙂
Judging from the pics … absolutely :D. It is a lovely idea, but to wait for 10 days – not my thing 🙂 I can only applaud your patience and enthusiasm Marianne, and your excellent shots too of course 🙂
What a cool idea!
Yeah – tasty too!
Certainly is – but more importantly it was FUN sharing!
Wow, that looks great! On a side note, don’t the Spanish have another weird nun-related dessert called a nun’s fart or something like that? I wonder where they get their names from!
A nun’s fart? HAHAHAHA …. Haven’t heard of that one, Jess.
Hope it tastes better than it sounds 😉
I did a bit of research to see if I remembered correctly, and it is indeed a Catalan dessert – “pets de monja.” Never had one myself though!
Best reply on a discussion thread – EVER! Thanks Jess 🙂
Agreed, Sue! 🙂
Haha cheers! I’ll have to try one and get back to you about what they actually taste like.
Rather you than me, Jess!
it looks wonderful, and should be good for you too, being sourdough 🙂
Just an odd piece – here and there 😉
Very delicious… 🙂
Yes, it is 🙂
That looks so delicious Marianne and you took excellent shots! I am sure the Seville barefoot nuns can learn a thing or two from you hon. 😀 *hugs*
AAwwww … you are too kind 🙂
The nuns surely should have faith in your cake baking skills, and your ability to share on the starter and the idea… not to mention a piece of the cake itself… that’s the good thing about cake, once it’s cut it’s best shared, and you don’t have to eat it all yourself 😉
OH I totally agree – cake is meant to be shared!
Funnily enough, I’m not a huge cake-eater. I don’t mind an odd slice though, but the beauty of this particular delicacy is that it can be frozen, to be shared again on another day 🙂
I think the nuns would be pleased because your version of the cake sounds delicious! This is such a neat idea.
The cake really is all the more delicious because of the sharing, Patricia 🙂
…and such FUN, Gemma 🙂
What fun but you didn’t say how it turned out?
Didn’t I? Well, it was delicious! 🙂
Bless you for that 🙂
When I lived in New Zealand, I had a landlord called Herman the German! 🙂
AH, but was he a piece of cake? 😉
Unfortunately not 😉
Looks wonderful and I think you made a stunning cake!
It was fun, that’s for sure 🙂
This is absolutely wonderful. Love the pics and LOVE the idea of shared sourdough. Yes, I clicked on the link and see I can start my own but I KNOW someone somewhere will pass it on to me and I will be able to pass it on to my pals. What a great idea! Thank you for blogging this.
Well, if you don’t get a portion given to you, I hope you will start one of your own. You don’t need to mention it when you share, though, do you? 😉
It’s just a really friendly, sociable thing, isn’t it?
Yes, the sociability and sharing is what`s wonderful about it.
Thanks, Arthur 🙂
Ah ha, amazing what you can find in NZ, although probably not so many bare footed nuns. That looks kinda fun.
To be fair, I’ve not seen any bare-footed nuns here in Spain, either. Apparently that refers to the fact that they wear open sandals 🙂
It WAS fun, yes 🙂
That takes me back four years when I played host to Hermann on numerous occasions. He ended up with apples, with chocolate chips and sliced in two then stuck together with jam.
It’s a lovely, friendly idea 🙂
It looks delicious and a fun way to share great experiences among friends. So, the question is, how did it taste??
Yes, delicious! 🙂
Oh The cake looks too good ! It is always a pleasure examining the pictures of food lol and I loved the pictures in your post ! Love it 🙂
The good news is that you can choose (to a certain extent) what you put in it at the end. I put crushed almonds, chopped dates, cinnamon and orange zest in it.
Oh It sounds nice…Can’t we make it something like with chocolate or strawberries ?
I’m sure you can if you want 🙂
Lol I would try someday 😉
Great post, you look like you did it justice 🙂
Would you like a starter-mix, Marty?
Hi Marianne, no thanks, we don’t really eat bread products.. or try not to anyway..lol
Hi Marianne, no thanks, we don’t really eat bread products.. or try not to anyway..lol
that looks so yummy!!!
Thanks for your comment – much appreciated 🙂
Looks good to me!
Thanks for your vote of confidence, Andrew 🙂
If I was closer I would drop round for a slice!
I LOVE the name! Herman the German indeed! Sounds like fun….I
Lots of fun – yes!
Yay! Well done and thank you for participating. Enjoy!
The cake was delicious, Sue. Thanks for giving me the chance to join in (and for the wonderful jam) 🙂
Just for the record – it keeps incredibly well too! The cake that I made before I gave you the ‘mother dough’ is still going strong! I’m only half way through it and it is still moist and full of flavour – after two weeks! 🙂
I’ve put two-thirds of mine in the freezer 🙂