Friendship cake recipe or what to do with Herman!

Herman friendship cakes have been around for a while (sourdough of course goes on forever, apparently there is a bread maker in London using 170 year old starter), I remember a friend’s Mum making it back in the mid 80s.
One came round our town a few months ago and I took a bit of a friends… There was a recipe with it, and feeding instructions, involving a lot of stirring and counting days. I decided that enough people had it, some I know had had enough, so I thought I’d bake 3/4, and keep 1/4. I followed the recipe scaling it up (it was written for 1/4 – you’re supposed to cook 1/4 and give 2 away to friends) the resulting cake was enormous and quite bland so the next time I decided to change it. I also renamed the starter Dewi, as we are in Wales (Dewi is pronounced, around here, almost like doughy). After a few reasonable attempts I now have 2 good recipes to share, I hope you enjoy the results, we have.
The feeding regime provided on the sheet I got with it was not particularly straightforward, I forgot what day I was on, didn’t stir it for days and got in a muddle – but I didn’t kill it… So now I just feed it every 5th day, I don’t bother stirring in between and I cook it whenever I get round to it, usually after 2 feedings but once after 3 feedings and a couple of days… All have worked fine.

OOPS… IT’S NOW OCTOBER AND I HAVE MANAGED TO KILL IT, MAYBE I WAS SUBCONSCIOUSLY BORED OF EATING CAKE (TOWPCOE WOULDN’T AGREE APPARENTLY I COULD ALWAYS EAT CAKE). BUT I WENT AWAY FOR A FEW DAYS HAVING ALREADY FORGOTTEN A FEED AND THAT WAS THAT.

New feeding regime:
one cup = 175 ml = 6 floz
100 g plain flour
140 g sugar
175 ml milk
Add all to Dewi and stir, you don’t have to get all the lumps out.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel (a 2 pint /1 litre bowl is just too small and the tea towel will get a bit of Dewi on it when it bubbles up). Put it in a corner of the kitchen out of the way. DO NOT PUT IN FRIDGE, you’ll kill the yeasts/bacteria.

The reason for feeding it is of course to keep the bugs alive, (if the mixture doesn’t bubble a few hours after you have added the new stuff then it is dead!) There are benefits from eating starches that have been digested by a sourdough culture, it is apparently easier to digest and more nutritious.
So to the important bit…

Recipe 1 Chocolate and pear version:
You should have about 840-880 g of Dewi, save 1/4 of it, 210-220 g.
I use a 2lb loaf tin lined with baking parchment and a 20 by 24 cm silicon baking tray, or 2 2lb loaf tins and a 1 lb loaf tin all lined with baking parchment.
Oven heated to 180 degrees Celsius.

To the rest in a large mixing bowl add:
300 g self raising flour
400 g sugar
130 g sunflower oil
4 medium eggs
90 g sifted cocoa
Mix really well, you could use an electric mixer, but I don’t usually bother as the batter is really thick and elastic so it’s hard to wash the beaters, I just use a silicon spatula.

Then add the final ingredients when your oven is hot and the tins are ready.
I have used some pears that I had jarred a couple of years ago, not very tasty on their own but a nice texture in the cake, or you could use 1 or 2 tins of fruit or dried fruit or nuts, or not bother…
3 teaspoons baking powder.
Mix really well and quickly pour into the tins (the baking powder starts to work as soon as it is wet, so the longer it takes to get in the oven the less the cakes will rise), bake for 45 mins to an hour, until it is firm to the touch and a skewer when poked into the middle comes out clean.

Recipe 2 Banana and dried fruit version:

Method as above

Add:
300 g self raising flour
250 g sugar
3 medium eggs
130 g sunflower oil
Mix well.

Then add:
200 g sultanas or other dried fruit
2 large very ripe bananas (or 3 smallish or whatever)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons baking powder
Mix well and pour into tins,
sprinkle a little sugar on the top of the batter to make a crunchy crust, and bake as above.

Take out of the tins after a little cooling and store when cool in an airtight tin or wrapped in cling film. They freeze well, and, because of the sourdough will keep for some time. (I have had one that lasted 3 weeks out of the fridge, though it was a bit dry by then!)

Please share any succesful versions you have tried, I’m always up for trying something new.

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