I don’t remember the first time I ever heard of a Herman cake. It’s one of those concepts that has been in my consciousness for so long that I no longer recall the origins.
You can find more about Herman cakes online but it is a yeast based starter that you are given, feed and tend for ten days before splitting into four, giving three parts away and baking a cake with your share. Sort of like a chain letter but with cake.
I have only ever been given a share of an existing Herman from friends, dutifully cared for it, baked some and passed it on. A Herman did the rounds here on Rum during our first year here, I made several different varieties of cake, shared the started around and even supplied the Teashop with a couple of versions of Herman cake. I remember chatting to a tourist who had enjoyed the chocolate and cranberry Herman about the idea and stirring her memory of the Herman cake. She was delighted to know the idea was still going strong having had a Herman pass through her kitchen many years previously and we pondered on whether the Herman on Rum was in any way related to the one she had had.
A Rum friend had some of the very last of her Herman cake defrosted from her freezer when I had a cup of tea with her yesterday and a quick poll revealed no one seems to have Herman here any more. I put out a plea on facebook for someone to send a Herman to Rum and was met with the suggestion of starting a new one. What a splendid notion! A pioneer Herman, born and raised on Rum, finding a home in every kitchen here, getting added to by every household, touched by every hand. Having a different set of ingredients added in every home to make a series of very different cakes all based on the same foundations. It feels like the most symbolic Herman ever….
And so, on our worktop this evening the 2014 Rum Herman was born. Over the coming days he will bubble, come to life and be nurtured and witness some of the Croft 3 spirit before growing, spreading and being handed out to go forth and multiply. Spreading friendship, cake and happiness.