Thursday evening, knock at the door. Funny, I thought, didn’t think Mormons stayed out after dark. But it wasn’t the Mormons, it was worse. It was Herman the Friendship Cake.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it was a lovely gesture on the part of my neighbour to bring round a cake, the recipe and about half a kilo of “starter” so that I could make us a cake and pass on the starter to three other people so that the world could be full of peace and love and rotten teeth.
But consider this: Hello, my name is Herman. I’m a sour dough cake and I’m supposed to be on the worktop for 10 days. You cannot put me in the fridge or I will die. If I stop bubbling then I am dead!
So poor old Herman get starved on the worktop for four days by which time Herman is hungry! and gets force-fed a cup of flour, a cup of milk and a cup of sugar. After four more days of starvation Herman gets the same treatment, is divided into four parts, three of which go to friends to spread peace and friendship, while the fourth goes into your cake.
Not only does about half a litre of sweet, milky starter go into the mix but also two heaped teaspoons of baking powder, so no chances are being taken with the leavening, plus, of course, lots more sugar.
Anyway, it caused me to think about naturally leavened cake of which I only have one in the repertoire, Zeb’s Kugel recipe which she sent to me two or three years ago. This couldn’t be more different than sugary Herman – Zeb described it as being a cross between a scone and brioche, excellent with butter and jam. As usual, she’s not wrong.
It being Easter I thought I’d give it another go. Her version contained apricots and was coated in flaked almonds. This one has walnuts and cranberries because that’s what was to hand. Not being a cake maker I mixed it like bread.
Plain Flour 425g
Strong Bread Flour 170g
Golden Caster Sugar 50g
Broken Walnuts 50g
Semi-skimmed Milk 100g
Melted Butter 150g
Large Eggs 4
I mixed all the wet ingredients, mixed all the dry ingredients and then mixed the dry into the wet. Kneeded the dough lightly.
Fermented for an hour, transferred the dough to a well buttered ring mould and proved for four hours – not much movement.
Baked at 180C for 50 minutes, removed from the mould for the last 20 minutes.
Very happy with the results but next time I’m going to treat it like brioche and ferment it overnight in the fridge before a four hour prove.
Now I’m off to my neighbour with Zeb the Sourdough Friendship Cake, the recipe, some starter and instructions to pass it on to three friends …