How To Make Your Own Sourdough Starter For a Herman The German Friendship Cake



Although Herman is sweeping the nation and becoming very popular (he even got a mention on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Radio 2 this morning) there are many people who have not yet been given a starter recipe.

It is not very difficult at all to make your very own Herman starter. The recipe and method that I have included in the Herman Instructions will make enough mix for four starters, three of which you can give away, freeze or bake more cakes with.


What You Need

Firstly, make sure you have the following:

  • 5oz plain flour
  • 8oz castor sugar
  • 1 packet of active dry yeast
  • Half a pint of warm milk
  • 2 fl oz. of warm water

What You Do

  1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water for 10 minutes then stir.
  2. Add the flour and sugar then mix thoroughly.
  3. Slowly stir in the warm milk.
  4. Cover the bowl in a clean cloth.
  5. Leave in a cool dry place for 24 hours
  6. Now proceed from day one of the 10 day cycle.


One thing to note, of which many people have asked, is the amount of yeast required. A packet of yeast is the equivalent of about 2 tsp. In the UK you will find small sachets of dry yeast in Asda for example. I use the 7g sachets that cost about 40p. Each one is about 2 tsp. in quantity.

When I made my starter this week I did notice that there were not as many bubbles in my mix as there had been in previous ones. The first starter I got given (see the homepage) was nice and bubbly. I would recommend that you use a packet and a half, or around three tsp. of yeast in your starter.

Something else I noticed was that although there were very few bubbles in my starter each day, as soon as I stirred it I could see the bubbling going on under the surface. As long as your starter isn’t completely dormant and smooth it should still be OK.

  67 Responses to “How To Make Your Own Sourdough Starter For a Herman The German Friendship Cake”

Comments (67)
  1. I received my first Herman the German friendship starter today and am so excited about this. I keep talking to him as i want the end result to be a happy cake. My family confirm i have finally ‘flipped!’

  2. i had a herman and now have to make more due to demand from friends , my husband thought i was barmy lol xx

  3. I have made my first starter but made it using a recipe which did seem to have a lot in it – 2 cups of flour & sugar & 2 sachets of yeast etc…….. The mixture is bubbling nicely but sometimes seems a bit thinner and slightly foamy on top… I’m thinking I should have split that starter in two really. I will split it now & continue with it. Update to follow.
    After being introduced to Herman I have become slightly obsessed…. Thats not unusual for me, but none of my addictions have ever been so awful for my dieting, haha. The temptation of Herman cake is too great so I am continuing with it despite the extra inches I can pinch ( may try making one with Splenda???) I have so far tried the crunchie and sugar, double chocolate and lemon drizzle. All were fab and loved by everyone who tasted them ( they went into work so lots of positive comments). If I don’t have a Herman on the go now I feel lost haha. The lemon drizzle used plain flour and did sink a bit in the middle despite me following the same cooking procedure as the others… I think I will stick to SR flour in all my cakes now!

  4. My sons girlfriend came roun d a few weeks ago with a bowl of goo she called her friendship cake and told me she had to feed it, i knew she was slightly mad but this confirmed it. Anyways i have a taste of the finished cake and it was gorgeous, next thing she came round with a herman for me, since then i have’nt stopped passing it on or making it. I have added differant inbgrediants to the end cake in fact it makes a gorgeous coffee and walnut herman, maybe my sons girlfriend isnt quite so mad after all or maybe ive just joined in her madness!!!

  5. my first Herman did not turn out as i had wanted, very soggy and i had to put him back in the oven, eventually he cooked but was very flat. I used a very large cooking apple and my instructions were to ‘grate’ the apple, the apple therefore disintegrated adding more liquid to the cake. He may well not have looked as i hoped but he tasted absolutely fabulous, apart from 2 small slices i ate all of him, my weight watchers diet went out of the window for 3 days and the weight gain lat week was worth it. Anyway i will not be beaten, i have my next batter on the go and will try the chocolate and honeycomb recipe this week. I will then freeze some small slices for myself other wise i see myself heading up the scales again. My batter this time appears thicker and i will separate out into 4 portions as my instructions say divide into 5, i have also read that you can freeze the batter and when defrosted commence at day 1, has anyone tried this??

    • Theresa,

      Thanks for that great feedback on your Herman. You can freeze the start mix. Read this to see how my frozen Herman turned out… Freezing Your Herman Starter.

      Do let me know if you are able to submit more on your honeycombe Herman recipe – take a quick photo if you can; sounds nice!


    • I have been given my first starter a few month back and have produced amany a good cake with it. Pretty much any combination of ingedients turns out to become a wonderful cake. At some point I got tired of keeping the culture going so I decided to freeze 1 portion of the mixture and I defrosted it about 1 month later without any problems. I have to say though that my culture is very active. I easily get 1 inch of foam in a day, so it may be different if your culture is not as active, but it is definately worth having a go.

  6. I was given my first Herman Cake today…and didnt read the instructions correctly..the whole lot has not been made into a cake…
    So I have found the starter ingredients and going to start again..ohps…

    • Don’t worry, what you have on day 1 is the same as day 10 any way. Good luck with the second, come back and tell us how you did


  7. I got a Herman 10 days ago. I spoke to him every day (good morning Herman – how are you today…) and worried about him when I went away for a couple of days. He was fine, but tried to eat the tea towel :o)
    I now have a house that smells of cinnamon and baking, a beautiful golden fruit and nut cake, and a totally abandoned diet. I’m also left wondering which of my friends deserves my 2 spare starters…
    I’m quite excited about the other recipe ideas people have posted. Does coffee and walnut work with the apple?
    Feriel xx

  8. So, I read the instructions, made my starter. Then watched the video, and see I needed to sift the flour, then I read underneath the video and saw I should use more yeast. Might be worth adding those two bits of info at the beginning fr when others make the same mistake I did.

  9. I have just made my Herman cake. It is totally delicious! I wish I’d kept back some more starter dough but, now I have found this site (crazy, marvellous thing) I will make a new starter in a week or so. The cake really is lovely, but if I make too many I shall just eat them. Not good for the waistline :-(

  10. My Mum is looking after our Herman and today was his first feeding day… First of all, she put in S.R. flour instead of plain, then after frantically scraping it back out she forgot to sift the plain flour, now Herman is lumpy. And she thinks he may be dead, I guess we’ll need to check if he’s still breathing (bubbling).

  11. So glad I found this site! After carefully nurturing my Herman mix I think it has now died (we went away for four days and when we came back I noticed the mix had ‘separated’ and now when I stir it doesn’t bubble but separates again). Phew, I can start another one. Thanks!

  12. Please help! I missed a Herman due to holiday but now have all the ingredients to start my own :-)
    Do I make the starter then give 3 away immediately, then love my “little” Herman for 10 days before splitting him again & giving more away & bake my final 1/4….. Or do I make the starter, grow then split-it’s not particularly clear & I don’t want to give duds away! Thanks x

    • Thanks for getting in touch.
      You should find that following the starter recipe on the Herman site, you’ll have enough mix to split it right away. One portion of starter is roughly one cup I think.

      With the quantity you end up with it’ll be about right to split it into 4.

      • Thank you, off to make my first Herman yay! :-)

      • Hello,
        I have just made my first Herman starter, and i am also not sure if should split it into 4 now? Or look after for 10days then split? Its not clear, on these comments?

        • If you follow the instructions for making your own starter you can split it straight away if you want to or continue from day one of the regular instructions until splitting on day nine

          A starter portion for baking or giving away is about a cup full, or a mug if that’s easier

          So basically after you make the starter you’re on day one. Split and give away or continue to day nine.


  13. I was given the cake mixture a few weeks ago. I did not look after it as well as I should but made 3 cakes from the first batch and ate one and froze 2. The cake was delicious so I started again and have now 4 cakes one to eat and 3 in the freezer. That is the end of Herman for me for now , could not persuade anyone to take a portion, but have found how to start him up again if I want to. I only used 1 apple each time and any mix of dried fruit I had in the cupboard.

  14. Hi there I am on day 4 of my Herman cake and have just come to “feed him” and noticed a watery beer like fluid floating on the surface rather than the bubbly effect I usually have, have I killed him??? :o(

  15. I’ve got to wait for 9 days til I get my first Herman, Ian quite excited about it! But one thing does concern me. In 9 days I’ll be given a mixture then I have to nurture him for a further 9 days, so by the time I come to bake him, he’ll be 18 days old! Will the mixture not ‘go off’ so to speak? Is it safe to continue with the same passed on mixture for days/months?

    • No, all the ingredients, including the milk work together; the yeast and the fermentation process maintains a healthy, live culture that can be added to and carry on for quite some time.

    • Rebecca replied on another thread regarding the milk content…

      … The milk isn’t just sitting there going stale, it is actively used by the yeast along with the sugar. Yeast is alive, it is a type of fungus, and it ‘feeds’ on the ingredients you put in, converting them to the bi-products that you can see (carbon dioxide bubbles!) and smell (alcohol!). So in short, the milk won’t go off!

      Hope this helps,


  16. I recieved my first herman cake, and absolutely love feeding him and watching him grow, I’m so glad I’m not the only one to talk to him and watch him breathe. I am relieved to find a starter recipe, so that I can pass it onto my friend in Canada, hopefully she and the kids will love him as much as I did. Off to bake him today hopefully he will taste great. (still talking about a cake not a human being :D)

  17. My sister has a wheat intolerance so I would like to make a starter with a different flour so I can share my Herman with her. Does anyone have a suggestion as to what flour I could use as there are so many none wheat flours out there and I don’t know what they do.

    • There are a couple of posts here which deal with intolerance. Use the search bar to look for posts with wheat or intolerance. I’ll mail you later when on my computer.

  18. I’ve just been given a starter. We are vegan so I’m wondering if we can use Soya milk instead of cow’s milk and substitute for the eggs.Which substitute for eggs would be appropriate? Has anyone tried this? I’d appreciate guidance.

  19. Hi, I’ve had a Herman going backwards & forwards for a few weeks now, have distributed loads and have now basically run out of friends! If what I have on day 1 is same as day 10, can I just add final ingredients and bake that single portion rather than feeding, splitting and then having to throw a whole load away? Or does it really need that extra time?

    • What you have after splitting and giving away on day 9 is what you start with no day 1 or bake with no day 10. So, no you don’t have to go through 10 days of growing and stirring.


  20. I was given my first Herman a couple of weeks ago, I’d never heard of this ‘giving’ before and was delighted. I done my duty and cared for Herman to the letter, passed him out and made a cake with the walnuts and rasins. I have a ‘gastric’ issue which means many cakes argue with my ‘innards’ so I was a little unsure as to whether all my efforts could be enjoyed by me. Lo and behold the cake was delish and no issues with my ‘innards’. Gonna make a new one from scratch over the weekend……. and look for all the different recipies to work through…….. :-)

    • Gill,

      I’m glad Herman was agreeable with your condition. If you want to keep a starter or two but don’t want to bake straight away you can freeze them!

      Come back and let us know how you get on. If you have any tips for managing disorders or conditions with Herman please do share.

      Good luck with your Hermans

  21. Just wondering can you freeze the starter mix & if so do I just let it defrost & start the 10 day steps again?

    • Yes you can freeze your Herman starter

      After thawing, either start from day 1 again or from day 10. Don’t forget that what you have on day 10 is what you’d receive (or give away) on day 1.
      You may find that after thawing a starter it will be more bubbly than before.


  22. my friend is doing it for a project and i wanted to do it so bad

  23. I went round to a friends house and we talked about baking. He then said he had someone in the kitchen I should meet. Within 5 minutes my lunchbox from work had been filled with goo. For the next 10 days everyone I live with kept walking past Herman just to smell him. I baked him with apples and cinnamon and sultanas. (they puff up better than raisins) Well let me tell you, if gluttony is a sin, I’m a sinner! I ate so much of that damn cake. He was far too delicious! Let me now worship Herman the yummiest of Germans for he makes me so very happy :D

    • Thanks Jane,

      great comments. I’m glad you liked Herman but he can be a bad influence!


  24. hi,can anyone help. I have just made up the starter recipe and wondered if I split this into 4 straight away or follow the instructions and wait the 10 days as there seems to be a lot of mixtu’re. thanks x

    • In the video I used what I made as day 1 and it was fine. You might be better off splitting straight away for slightly smaller portion size. It might allow Herman to develop and bubble better too!

      • Hi, I’ve literally just made a Herman starter. You say you can split it and freeze a portion. Do you split it into 4 and freeze one and feed three separate hermans or do I just take one portion out and feed the rest tomorrow from day one, following instructions? Confused!! (It doesnt take much lol!) Also, how much is one portion and how long can you freeze a Herman for?
        Sorry to be a pain!! Thanks in advance.

  25. I have tried to start my own herman as my boyfriend loves them & I was trying to make him one for valentines day. I have used the recipe for the starter from this website but it doesnt seem to be working, any tips on how I can get it to work will be greatly appriciated! I follow the recipe step by step too :( HELP!

    • Not sure what happened there. When I did one that didn’t seem to bubble much I divided it into starter sizes (about a cup or mug to a mug and a half) and froze them. After thawing they were bubbling like nothing I’d ever seen.

      When did you make the starter? If you did it today see what it looks like later tonight or in the morning. He takes time to ferment and bubble.

      Let me know.


  26. just made our first Herman cake………apple filler…….yummy cake , what a brill idea, I gave two parts away to friends who were excited to receive it and made a second cake with the third part….used dates with that one. Both tasted wonderful. again what a fantastic idea. :)

  27. I made a Herman last year and wanted to do another one, hence arriving on this page. The make your own starter seems to read as though you can freeze it but my Herman’s instructions said you couldn’t do this because it will kill the yeast. Which one is true please?

    • Putting your starter in the fridge during the 10 day cycle will slow down the process. Having made the starter you can freeze an individual portion to start your 10 day cycle at a later time.

      Hope that helps.

  28. Can someone please tell me how much one starter mix weighs please? I’ve lost count and can’t remember how much I’ve taken out now for a few different recipes and can’t re,ember what my original weight equation was… Thanks

  29. Was thrilled when my daughter gave me Herman the German friendship cake mixture, he has been loved and cared for even came away with us for the weekend. I have a question , I will be seeing my friends on day 11 so won’t be able to pass portions on until then. What is the best way to do that.? Thanking you Regards Janine

    • Don’t worry, a day will not make much difference. Why not take a photo and email it in for the gallery? Hope you all enjoy Herman!


  30. I’ve made my first Hernan starter this week and I find myself greeting him every morning and chatting to him!! Haha, it’s a really great way to share baking. My question is this, when I give him away are the recipients supposed to carry on from day 1 of the instructions or bake a Herman cake? I’m confused!! :-)

    • Hey Sara,

      What you are supposed to do is divide your Herman and give away each portion with a copy of the instructions. Your recipients then follow the instructions from day 1.


      (don’t forget to have a look through the recipe ideas for something a little different –

  31. I made my starter mix last night and when I came to stir today it had separated. It came back together with a quick stir. Is this ok? Worried I have killed him :(

    • Hmm… Split is not good. Go with caution and see what happens tomorrow. If split again, ditch your Herman.


  32. I have just made the Herman starter. It has doubled in size. Is it possible to make the cakes now using all of the starter and multiple the ingredients by 4. Can I miss out the ten day process?

    • The key part of this process is the fermentation of the Herman starter. You should probably wait until day 10 but I don’t see the harm if you want to fast forward. It is your decision though (I would personally wait!).


  33. How come Herman starter can be frozen, but not put in the fridge?

    • Hi Carole,

      Herman can be put in the fridge but this will simply slow down the process. It shouldn’t kill him but the 10 day cycle will not be sufficient for Herman’s development.

  34. I received my first Herman 10 days ago yesterday. It was the best and weirdest present I have been given. I fed him and loved him, spread him around on day nine and cooked him up yesterday. He even went on a road trip with me for a weekend away – he loved it and bubbled happily.
    I took him to work when he was cooked and shared him with friends. People loved the idea behind it, said he was delicious (mine was cranberry and apple), and because I ran out before i could give it to everyone i wanted to (and i miss my little friend) I’m now planning on making my own starter….
    What a great idea!!

    • oh and i should add that i found i had to cook him for much longer than specified to cook all the way through. Covered him in foil after the initial time and he turned out well with the extra time.

    • Herman does like to travel…

      When you do more Hermans, let us know how you get on. Definitely let me have some feedback on making your own starter.
      Don’t forget – photos are always good and gratefully received!


  35. I got herman last year when I cooked it, it was horrible but I put in some peanuts (salted) it was delicious after that try it

  36. Has anyone tried posting Herman? I thought he would enjoy a little travel? Would Herman shaking about in a secure container in the care of our wonderful New Zealand Post count as a stir? Apart from claustrophobic Hermans, he would be OK I imagine over 2-3 days? If the container is spacious enough he could still bubble and breath.

    How about posting Herman internationally – anyone had experiences on this, as I would love to send Herman to friends overseas? He would I am sure love to travel. Would he survive a 5-6 day trip to Europe from here we wonder?

    NOTE: Do not try to send a bubbling Herman by international post into New Zealand or Australia, or he will be instantly detected by the sniffer hounds, then captured and destroyed by our Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

    I plan to make a “Christmas Hermans” so he can be part of the family on Christmas Day too. Anyone got some “Christmas Herman” recipes?

    I received my first Herman 3 weeks ago, and the whole family love him, and laugh about him. The laundry smells beautifully of yeast and alcohol. Even my teenagers are giving Hermans to friends now. We never knew baking could be such fun!

  37. Tomorrow is Herman Eve for my plan, :) My plan strays but adds a personal touch. Any advice or even guesses would help. Your guess is better than mine, :)

    Dec 22 – make the starter batch
    Dec 23 – this is day 1
    Dec 31 – this is day 9

    This means I can bake on New Year’s day and give out gifts on New Year’s Eve. Very nice.

    But I want to vary it.

    When I had out the Herman as a gift, I’d like to have one cooked to give out a slice as well.

    But cooking is next day.

    How can I vary?

    I was hoping for….make 2 starters that will produce 8 portions in the end. Bake 2, freeze 1, hand out 5. With each of the 5 will come a slice from a baked one. The house keeps 1 1/2. House wins.

    I could just do day 1 for everyone, but that’s their fun.

    Can I delay a day?

    Tomorrow is Herman Eve for my plan, :).

  38. Herman went really well when we cooked hem he was really yummmmmy so we ceped another batch so we are on Day-4 we feed he to day


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