Back before Christmas, somebody tempted me with a bowl of Herman. He came with instructions to feed him and nurture him, and the promise that in time he would reward me with a delicious cake! I had a newborn and a toddler to look after but I figured it couldn’t be too hard, especially as I enjoy baking anyway, and the promise of cake at regular intervals was a wonderful thing. I never managed to give away more than two portions at a time though, and to be honest was quite happy to keep a little Herman bubbling away!

After the first cake I made using apples and cinnamon, I decided that I fancied something different. I had blackberries from the garden needing using up so I added them, along with a couple of apples which were no longer perfectly crisp and fresh (and would therefore have caused my son to turn his nose up at them). Cinnamon seemed a good partnership again for this one. It wasn’t bad! I was getting used to having cake around by now…

The next batch I made, I split into two. I’d bought some pears and a punnet of plums and figured they’d be a good combination with some nutmeg, but, knowing my boy doesn’t “do” fruit particularly I had to think of a second combination for him. There was a banana needed using up and he takes after me in the chocoholism so I put some chopped white chocolate in his. He helped mix his! We baked this in batches in some tiny star shaped cake cases

You might be seeing a bit of a theme here already. Occasionally I will go and buy fruit specifically to put in the cake but more often than not it’s a case of using up whatever’s lying around, and adding bits from the baking cupboard. Sometimes it works, sometimes not!

The latest version I substituted in some ground almonds and cocoa powder instead of some of the flour. If you are able to use ground almonds I totally recommend it as it gives the resulting cake a lovely chewiness which I adore, and keeps it quite moist as well. It also makes really good muffins – I pressed a fresh raspberry into the top of each muffin before baking for a yummy moist raspberry centre.

The current experiment is to see how easy it is to change the sourdough batter into a savoury sourdough – I expect I could look it up to be honest but I’m enjoying experimenting, seeing if my basic bread making knowledge can cope! I’ll have to let you know about that one another day though.

By Jeni Entwistle, of The Messy Mama.