My White Chocolate And Strawberry Herman

White Chocolate and Strawberry Herman

Last week I decided to make my own Herman starter then bake a nice Herman cake. What I wanted to do was to experiment a little to see if I could answer some of your questions that have been sent in. Can you freeze a starter to continue with at a later date? Can I leave Herman for a couple of days without stirring him? How much yeast is in a packet and how much do I put in? What if there are not many bubbles, have I killed him?

The information on the starter that I made is in the article How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter For a Herman The German Friendship Cake; there is a video with photos for you to watch to show you what I did and how it turned out.

Read The Instructions

This article is about making the final cake and there will be a video available soon to show you how it all went. At the end of this page I have highlighted some of the key points I learnt this time round.

The first thing I did was to read the instruction through to make sure I had all of and enough of the ingredients for the cake.

In the original instructions that I was given, the last paragraph tells you to pour and sprinkle melted butter and brown sugar over the mix after putting it in the tin. These are not in the ingredients listed above and could easily be missed. I have changed this on the Herman instructions that you can download from this website so you can decide if you want to do that at the start.

There Are No Set Rules

With all the bits I needed set out my little helper and I began. I got my starter mix and transferred him into a larger bowl. At this stage you will need a big enough bowl to fit everything in and be able to mix it too. The one you will see in the video is about the right size.

By the time I had added the dry ingredients the mix became very stiff and quite difficult to stir. This was probably not helped by the fact I was using a plastic serving spoon instead of a wooden spoon. Something else worth mentioning here is that this is supposed to be a bit of fun; something you can do with children or by yourself to pass on to your friends or just because. So, there is no exact science, nor do you have to use any particular technique.

In fact, when it comes to measures I wanted to clarify the question of cup size (no ladies, not those cups!). I measured out the cup equivalent of 150g or 5oz flour and poured it into a normal sized tea mug. It came to the top so I can say that by literally using a large cup, more like a mug you get the correct amount.

As the mixture stiffened I added the oil to try and loosen it all up a bit. A also added a splash of milk to get it mixing a bit better. It didn’t really do much to be honest but it was worth a try after a visitor to the website made the suggestion.

Something Different

Another thing I wanted to do was move away from the generic ingredients of apple, raisins and cinnamon. I had been giving this some thought as I read through the recipe ideas page, where all your recipe suggestions have been posted. I eventually settled on strawberries and white chocolate. I love white chocolate and out of other things like cranberries and raspberries, strawberries win every time. That and I couldn’t find cranberries as they are out of season until September time I believe.

I didn’t have my strawberries pre-chopped and I didn’t have the chocolate broken down into chunks either, so there was a slight delay in the process. However, my 2 ½ year old daughter enjoyed tasting some of the ingredients (for quality assurance purposes of course) whilst we prepared them. I used a whole punnet of strawberries and chopped them into pieces, which made about a mug full. I used a whole bar of white baking chocolate (150g), broken up into pieces. Again this was about a mug full.

Potential Disaster!

I had the mix all done and so I greased a baking tin. I used a round tin with a release clip on the side, which helps to get the cake out after baking. I greased it with butter then poured Herman in. I was about to pour over my butter when my wife walked in.

She reminded me that I should have used grease-proof paper, as not all cake tins are non-stick or grease-proof. Not only that but I was actually using a cheesecake tin! So, it was out with Herman, wash the tin, grease the tin, line with paper and back in with Herman. With the melted butter and brown sugar added Herman was ready for baking.

Wetter Than A Wet Thing

After the 45 minutes at 180°C allowed in the instructions I eagerly checked my Herman in the oven. “Looking good!” I thought. However, a knife test through the middle revealed a wet mess inside. I could actually see the top of the cake moving up and down as it bubbled away inside.

I covered the cake in tin foil and baked for another 20 minutes. I re-checked and the middle was still wet but getting better. The top was looking just about right. I decided to go for another 10 minutes but made the mistake of turning the heat up. DO NOT DO THIS – turn the heat down if you need to bake your Herman for longer. A higher heat will over cook and may burn the top, sides and base.

Even after another 10 minutes my Herman was still dragging his heels. I put him back in and sort of forgot about him for a while. Having turned the heat down, I got distracted in the garden with sunshine and family fun. When I went back to check on Herman he was pretty much done. At last and the 45 minutes had only been extended to nearly 2 hours!!

One possible reason, so my wife tells me, is that I should have patted the strawberries dry after washing. The added moisture could have contributed to the wetness of the cake.


The Verdict

The final result was still pretty good. The top was just about right, maybe a little darker than I had wanted. Inside was nice and moist and the sides and base were just a little overdone but nothing too unbearable.

The strawberries had sort of disintegrated into red/ pink suggestions that a strawberry was once there and the chocolate chunks didn’t stay in naughty little chocolaty chunks of sweetness as I had hoped. Both of these symptoms may have been due to the over cooking to get the middle right or it may just be that is the way it goes. It was still a very nice cake and tasted very more-ish; needless to say this Herman didn’t last very long at all. I definitely recommend a strawberry and white chocolate Herman.

Suggested Tips That May Help You With Your Herman

  • Use a big enough mixing bowl

Be prepared for a lot of cake mix. By the time you have added all the ingredients a large bowl will be quite full.

  • Just use a large mug instead of the exact measurements

As I said before, Herman is a bit of fun and there are no set rules other than ensuring he bubbles over the ten days. Instead of using scales to measure out all your ingredients, consider saving time and effort by quite literally using a ‘cup’. I found a tea mug was just about right to match the measure of the US baking cup.

  • Sift the flour

Some people have written in to say their starter has developed lumps after feeding him. Although this is likely to happen anyway, by sifting your flour before adding to the mixture will help eliminate lumps and add air to the mixture. It is the thing to do with most baking recipes.

  • If you use fresh fruit dry it after washing

Any extra moisture or water could add to the baking time of your Herman. Although minimal, by removing it from the equation it could help with a quicker baking time and less overcooked edges. To be honest most fresh fruit will probably melt and dissolve inside the cake at the temperature and time involved but it’s worth considering.

  • Use grease-proof paper as well as greasing the cake tin

As my reliable wife says, not all cake tins are grease-proof or non-stick. Without grease-proof paper your cake will be more difficult to remove from the tin, even with a greasing of butter beforehand.

If you have any further tips, let me know so I can add them.


35 Comments on My White Chocolate And Strawberry Herman

  1. Samantha // 21/05/2012 at 14:01 //

    hey, just been given my first herman cake, ben watching him bubble now and hes had his first feed,( seems to like it , hes now bubbling loads) but i beeen looking as i love carrot cake if i could make a carrot cake using my herman.

    hope to hear soon
    waiting on edge of my seat

    • margaret taylor // 27/05/2012 at 16:46 //

      not made carrot cake made a bannana and walnut left out cinnamon delicious

  2. fiona MacFarlane // 31/05/2012 at 09:03 //

    Baking my Herman tonight, but just wanted to say that if you coat your fruit/choc in flour it allows it to be ‘suspended’ in the cake instead of sinking 🙂

    • Stuart // 11/06/2012 at 20:36 //

      Brilliant idea with the flour. I will definitely use that in my next Herman. Thanks Fiona!

  3. Scott Parker // 01/06/2012 at 14:10 //

    Great idea with the flour, my friend at work who gave me my Herman did a fruit based one but she said all her fruit sank! I’m cooking my Herman tonight and he will come fully furnished with Chocolate orange, dried fruits of the forrest and a descent measure of Cointreau (instead of the full compliment of milk. I’m also backing off a little bit with the sugar in the final bake as choc, fruit and liqueur already carry enough of the sweet stuff.

  4. sherrie // 08/06/2012 at 09:27 //

    the milk you add to feed herman wat sort is it or does it not matter (ie whole, seni,skimmed)

    • Stuart // 08/06/2012 at 13:40 //

      It doesn’t really matter but whole milk or at least semi-skimmed will work best in terms of texture. I find that skimmed milk is rather like coloured water with a slight taste and I don’t really like it. It’s better for you though. If you have to use skimmed that’s ok. I’d use whole milk though.

  5. I have made several cakes now, all of them have been delicious. I started with the recommended ingredients, then I decided to make a Ginger Cake with fruit. My latest idea is to use pineapple instead of apple with almonds, which kept the cake nice and moist. I also made some individual buns with fruit, including cranberries and nuts. There are so many ideas you can try. I passed my cake mix onto my friend’s daughter and she made a chocolate cake, she replaced some of the flour with cocoa and put in chocolate chips, then iced the top !

  6. Muriel // 09/06/2012 at 23:17 //

    I made my last Herman into a carrot cake and it was delicious. I used about 7oz grated carrots, cup full of walnut pieces and used sweet mixed spice instead of cinnamon. For my own convenience I bake Harman in 2 x 1lb loaf tins. I’m going to have a go at using frozen blackberries in some way. Has anyone else used frozen fruit?

    • Stuart // 11/06/2012 at 20:38 //

      Thanks Muriel,

      I think my next Herman will be a carrot Herman. My wife makes a great carrot cake so I will have to try and better that. Don’t fancy my chances, any other tips for a carrot Herman??

    • Didge // 18/09/2012 at 06:58 //

      Yes, I used frozen raspberries and turned my Herman into muffins. Possibly could have added a little more liquid – probably milk to make the consistency a little less gluggy. However, end result was still wonderful.

  7. Barbara // 11/06/2012 at 16:28 //

    I’v tried diffrent things in my Herman, sprinkled coconut, also almonds on top, I also have found it better to put apple or dried fruit on top of mix otherwise it ends up with a soggy bottom, and no-one wants a soggy bottom!

    • Stuart // 11/06/2012 at 20:39 //

      Ha ha,

      Quite right! Although with the current weather that is unavoidable…

  8. Meira // 16/06/2012 at 20:20 //

    I am going to try the Double Chocolate version I saw on the web. on Monday, i will let you know I get on.

  9. Margaret // 18/06/2012 at 08:07 //

    I didn’t like the idea of melted butter on the top so just left it out. This did not seem to have any adverse effects whatsoever. I actually put 2 portions together for the final stage-I should have used a bigger bowl but after a fair amount of stirring I decanted the lot into 2 loaf tins and 1 square cake tin-greased and lined the bottoms with baking parchment. Worked a treat and they taste great. Loved reading about the variations with carrots, soft fruits etc etc.

  10. Rosmarie // 29/06/2012 at 11:32 //

    In my first Hermann I used all the ingredients as in my recipe. Since then I just used whatever fruit I had in my kitchen, sometimes bananas or strawberries. Because I use quite a large round tin with release on the side it needs a good hour to cook.So far it has worked each time. I love cinnamon and walnuts, so I will always include them. Perhaps next time I’ll try carrots or beet roots

  11. Amanda Emms // 08/07/2012 at 18:23 //

    Baked my first Herman today made cherry and sultana and only sprinkled the top with unrefined demerara sugar but it is delicious! Have got the recipe for the starter mix as I now have requests for it and I want to try out some different recipes!

  12. Brigitte // 10/07/2012 at 19:33 //

    I am about to bake my Herman, I’d like to do a strawberry and chocolate version.
    Do I just stir strawbs and chopped chocolate into the basic batter, or should I add extra flour, because the traditional recipe has a lot of other ingredients, more flour, baking powder, cooking oil etc.
    Perhaps I just swap the apples and raisins for the strawbs and choc , then add all the other ingredients?
    I’d like to know pretty quick!

  13. Diane // 26/07/2012 at 14:27 //

    I’m about to embark on my very first Herman cake and wondered if someone could tell me the best type of oil to use as there are so many!!! Thanks all……x

  14. jane // 11/08/2012 at 14:00 //

    Going to use rhubarb for herman, hope it turns out alright.

  15. Elizabeth // 13/08/2012 at 21:00 //

    My Herman has just been delivered he is sitting in the kitchen with a lovely tea towel on his head , so many ideas , but will he survive two cats ?
    I just don’t know who are going to be the lucky friends who get a baby Herman . Will keep in touch . X

  16. Marie // 16/08/2012 at 21:21 //

    Help please!!! My sister gave me a herman a while back and it was lovely, unfortunately I didn’t keep any back for myself so I saw the starter recipe here. However my first attempt had to be thrown out as it stopped bubbling and seemed too flat and lifeless. I am now on my second day with my new herman and despite putting in extra yeast like was said here I find he’s very flat and not bubbling again. Is this
    normal? He did bubble the first day! I would be very grateful for any advise! Thanks.

    • Stuart // 16/08/2012 at 22:01 //

      I found that my Herman starter I made from scratch was a little flat too. It turned out ok though. You will see from my article on freezing your Herman starter, that after thawing he was super charged and bubbling like you’d not believe.

      You could try dividing then freezing for a couple of days.


      • Marie // 17/08/2012 at 00:47 //

        Thanks Stuart, I will give that a try, I did see your article and was so pleased to see you can freeze him and that was the reason I decided to start at the beginning. Any problems and I know I can come back here!
        Cheers Marie x

        • Tiffany // 08/10/2013 at 13:40 //

          Hi Marie,
          We had Herman in a metal bowl on our stone benchtop & I thought he was dead. As a last resort we transferred him to a plastic bowl & onto a wooden chopping board. Turns out the cold from my stone benchtop was sending him to sleep. He’s working a treat now. 🙂

  17. Magi // 18/08/2012 at 09:07 //

    I suspect that Herman likes to be kept in quite a warm spot (but not too warm) if he is to do his best. I know that when making bread you have to keep it quite warm to make it rise quickly and Herman does work through yeast action, like bread.
    I’d like to know how to do a chocolate one? Would choc & banana be possible?

    • Stuart // 23/08/2012 at 21:43 //

      Hi Magi,

      There are a couple of chocolate and banana recipes for your Herman here.


  18. colin parker // 26/08/2012 at 09:24 //

    Has anyone got the recipe for the starter, made one cake with nuts and glazed cherries,and it was passed around my friends,

  19. steph // 16/09/2012 at 21:03 //

    I am on my 3rd herman! The cake is delicious. I have added chopped apple and glace cherries as they were in the cupboard! My friend has added Maltesers and it was good too! We all love the cake and my little girl loves to stir and add the ingredients! We love having Herman visit, he just doesnt last long enough!!

  20. Ferrari // 18/09/2012 at 16:06 //

    I have cooked Herman a few times now and always find that I have to cook for about 90min to get the centre dry-ish. I have not seen anywhere a mention of the size of the pan to be used and I imagine that the ones that I used are just a bit too small which means that the final result is for a thicker cake taking longer to cook in the middle. Some of the picture posted show the cake made in what looks like a large oblong dish. I sell my cakes at a local weekly market and comments have been very positive and saying that it is more like a pudding than a cake. I will try some of the other recipes. I have one question to ask you experts,
    Do you really have to let the starter bubble up for 10 days before cooking it? My impression is that the 10 days with two feeds is there so you can then divide it into four parts and then give away three but one soon start to run out of friends willing to take on the challenge so you have to do enough to eat yourself or sell as I do. I now just do one feed and then divide into three, bake two and keep the third for the next batch and this does not last 10 days.
    Hope you did not get too bored reading this.

    • Stuart // 18/09/2012 at 21:51 //


      Thanks for getting in touch and taking the time to write about your Herman experience.
      I think you are right when you say the whole 10 day thing is simply to bulk Herman up for sharing. Kind of the point in the cake really but if you want to bake without waiting for 10 days its not going to hurt.


  21. Carmel Hayes // 19/09/2012 at 17:23 //

    Love the white chocolate/strawberry idea. I have all the kids at school with their own little Hermans bubbling away now. Great fun and learning. Thanks.

  22. Janet boyd // 20/09/2012 at 11:25 //

    Having received our 1st ever Herman a month ago we’ve had a starter on the go ever since. We use 2lb loaf tins, making 2 loaves with each batch – cooks in about 50 mins. My daughter makes choc chip – 2x100g bar choc chopped – loaf usaully lasts 5 mins and is gone! I used 2x nectarines chopped, 1/2 cup chopped dried mango and 1/2 chopped dried apricots all soaked in apple juice in my 1st attempt – delicious! Last one was stem ginger chopped with 100g dark choc and grated rind of 2 oranges and that was gorgeous too. have 2 starters on the go, due to cook tomorrow – think I’m gonna soak a bag of tropical mix in apple juice and thro in some pineapple and lime rind…..

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