by Catherine Jennings of Bella and Will
Have you ever wondered what it is that makes your Herman bubble and smell like it does?
It is yeast.
Each batch of Herman is started off with yeast then the natural yeasts found in the flour and in the air continue to keep your Herman happily bubbling away.
Being a bit of a scientist I was intrigued about the amount of yeast there was in a batch of Herman and if it was possible to make a bread out of it. The answer is yes! I have only had a little experience making bread and this was usually from a ready mixed packet so I mixed some extra flour and water with my Herman and left it to rise in my airing cupboard for an hour. Nothing happened! At that point I turned to the Internet and with a little help from twitter I discovered that Herman works under the principles of a sourdough starter and needs quite a long time to rise.
Below is a basic recipe for a loaf of Herman bread, the whole process takes a long time but the amount of active time you put in is not that much.
- 400g strong bread flour
- 100ml water
- 1 portion of Herman (About 350g/12 ½ oz)
Combine the ingredients in a large bowl and knead until very smooth and silky. Kneading can be done on a clean work surface or in a freestanding mixer; either way knead for about 15 minutes.
Smooth your dough into a round shape, place in a clean mixing bowl and cover with cling film. Let the dough rest in the mixing bowl over night at room temperature. In the morning take the dough out, give it a quick knead and leave it to rest on the side for ½ hour. Then shape the dough into an oval shape, then put into a large (900g/2lb), greased loaf tin, cover with greased cling film. Put the tin in a warm place such as an airing cupboard for 3 hours to rise again.
Towards the end of the 3 hours preheat the oven to your oven’s hottest setting. Just before putting the tin in the oven slash the top of the loaf three times across the top using a sharp knife. Place the tin on the middle shelf in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes at the high temperature then reduce to Gas Mark 4/180°C and cook for a further 45 minutes.
Put the tin on a cooling rack and leave until cool enough to handle then take the bread out of the tin and leave to cool completely.
This recipe makes a wonderfully sweet loaf which is best toasted with butter, this is a basic bread recipe and as with the Herman cakes is perfect for additions such as a handful of chocolate chips or mixed dried fruit. You would add these once the bread is fully kneaded but before you leave it to rest overnight.
I am currently working on a number of other recipes for Herman breads that can be found on my blog – Bella and Will. Below are just ideas for making the most of your Herman.