Whilst I was outside cleaning the car my neighbour came over and we got chatting, she said she was baking a cake and wondered if I had a large cake tin she could borrow, after a further conversation it transpired she was making a Herman cake, I found this quite interesting as i’d tended and baked a Herman back in the 80s but back then it hadn’t turned out very well and all I can remember was a very yeasty, heavy cake with very little flavour (I think it ended up on the bird table).

Two days later there was a knock at the door and there’s my neighbour with a plastic box containing some bubbling sloppy goo so I gave my polite smile with a “Oh what a lovely surprise!” and took it indoors. When in the kitchen I looked at it and thought “Shall I just wash it down the sink?” when I remembered the disaster of my last attempt!!!

But no, I decided I would perservere with the bubbling slop so I carried out the instructions as per the letter (quite an achievement for me). On the day of splitting I passed it on to more neighbours and a colleague who all gave the same polite smile that I gave on day 1!!!!!!!!!!

Baking day……. I decided that I might be a little more adventurous than the grated apple and nutmeg version the recipe suggested so I added the grated apple, orange zest, mixed dried fruit and crushed hazlenuts, then mixed it all up. But I thought it looked a little dry; when deliberating whether to let the mixture down with another egg or perhaps some milk I struck upon the idea of using brandy. The cake took a long time to cook, it was in the oven for about 90 minutes but the smell in the kitchen was heavenly!!!

Once cooled it resulted in a moist cake full of flavour and texture (much nicer than my previous attempt), so when I was offered another starter mix a few months later I accepted it gladly. This time I was more adventurous still and included lemon zest, lime zest, orange zest, coconut, dried banana chips and dried mango and topped it once cooled with pineapple jam and coconut. Yet again this was a very moist cake with interesting flavours and textures. All in all I would recommend anyone to give Herman a go and don’t look too closely at the messy sticky goo in the first instance!!!!!!!!  🙂

by James Pollard