Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Status update: Herman the friendship cake (gluten free and/or vegan)

If you are my friend on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter, you have heard me going on (and on) about Herman.

Herman came into our lives 10 days ago when my son bounced home clutching a little tub of...sick.  There’s no kinder way of putting it.  A tub of bubbly sick.  And then he told me we had to grow the sick for 10 days in the kitchen until it would miraculously become a beautiful cake.

The teachers are clever at his school because just an hour before the ‘we need to grow the bubbly sick’ announcement I had attended the school assembly.  The teacher had served a delicious cake with cinnamon and apple.  Herman! I had been fed Herman!  It was a very Derren Brown moment; all smoke, mirrors and neuro-linguistic programming.

Anyhoo, we started to grow my son’s sick/cake and my allergy baking head started to whirr.  It turns out Herman is well known in recipe blogland and all the reports are favourable.  You ‘grow’ the cake for 10 days covered with a tea towel but on day ten you divide it into four portions and give them away.  The lucky (?) recipient then grows Herman for 10 more days, gives ¾ away, etc etc.  Sort of like an edible chain letter.

 Of course I wanted to try a gluten free, egg free, dairy free version, but what if after 10 days of growing it didn’t work?  Worse, what if it just went mouldy?

I stupidly mentioned it on Twitter and @Ruebellesmoon egged me on.  ‘Do it!’ she said secretly thinking ‘Yep, you grow the sick and I’ll only give it a go if I know it works.’  She’s not just a pretty face that Ruebellesmoon. 

And so I let Herman into my life.  He is definitely the weirdest friend I’ve had.  I had doubts about how the gluten free flour would perform, so right at the last minute I casually threw in an extra ½ tsp of yeast.  Oh foolish move.

Within a day Herman grew too large for the mixing bowl.  So I transferred him to my KitchenAid bowl.  The next morning it was like Aliens meets the Magic Porridge Pot; he’d grown out of the bowl and dripped down onto the worktop.

It is now Day six.  Herman seems to have found his rhythm and is contained but the smell of yeast is overpowering.  ‘Beer!’ splutters my daughter when I do my daily Herman stir. ‘Sniff sniff sniff’ says the dog excitedly.

Only four more days to go and the tension is mounting.  We’ve baked my son’s cake using wheat, eggs and milk so I know what it should taste like.  Will my allergy-friendly version turn out brilliantly?  Or will Herman let me down when I need him most?

By popular request on Facebook (well, one person) I did a photo shoot with Herman yesterday.  He comes alive when you stir him, bubbling ferociously – it’s almost alarming – and then he calms down and is ready to grow again.

You’re right.  I am talking about Herman as if he’s a person.  I will be sad to see him go.

If you want to be friends on Facebook click HERE.  Come say hello on Twitter HERE

And if anyone is going to Bite ‘n’ Write on Saturday and wants a share of Herman to grow...just let me know!  (I can't promise how he will turn out...)

I'm going in...

'Hesssssss' hisses Herman a la Harry Potter

'Silence Herman! Get back down!'

Peace.  Until tomorrow Herman. I love you.

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved


Rubelle's Moon said...

Fantastic! Love the write up!!

Herman looks beautiful, if a little bubbly, but all good things have bubbles... baths, chocolate, champagne and now Herman.

In Herman We Trust.

Can't wait to see him complete (god this is sounding a bit Frankenstein?!)


Rubelle's Moon (thanks for the mention!)

Pig in the Kitchen said...

He is VERY bubbly isn't he?! I'm genuinely getting anxious that after all the fun we've had together it's all going to fizzle out when I bake him with egg replacer instead of egg. Still, at least we'll have the memories and the photos *sob*

vicki groth said...

I am actually quite excited. Having done the Herman thing about a year ago and enjoying the cake whilst hiding it from my kids I would love to be able to make one for us all to share. What's more, it freezes beautifully and is revived with 30secs in the microwave. Great for those last minute guests! I'm now watching with anticipation as to how he grows, shame I don't live closer to you:(

Natalie said...

Awww Herman looks amazing! I would love to go to the Bite N Write event over the weekend as it's right on my doorstep but it's just too costly before Christmas. Gutted :(

Flo'bear said...

What on earth is going on? I went away for a day, came back, and it's the twilight zone.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Vicki, if it works it will be a culinary coup! Fingers crossed. Yes, shame you're not closer. Oh, do you think I could post you a portion??! Eeewww.

Natalie, oh I wish you hadn't mentioned Christmas, it's just too scary. Sorry you can't make Bite 'n' write, maybe it will be rubbish and you'll be glad you didn't go? (trying to find a consolation for you... :-(

Flo'bear, yep, it's all gone a bit doo doo doo doo (Twilight Zone music) over here. I will go back to my usual restrained, conservative self very soon. Or perhaps not...

Pig x

Flo'bear said...

I'm just bugged out by Herman. What IS Herman? A weird-ass yeasty cake? Why do you have to share him? Lost, lost and confused.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am on day 5 of a Herman cake right now. DESPERATE to know what you will be doing to replace the eggs and if it works, I'd resigned myself to making my son his usual egg free cake with some fruit in to make up for missing out on Herman. Id love to surprise him! So glad I just found your site its fab!

Kristina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pig in the Kitchen said...

Flo'bear, all will be revealed shortly! I love the 'weird-ass' reference :)

Hi Anonymous, I'm so glad you found me too! Ok, by my calculations, you are now on Day 6 of your cake? So phew, we still have time. REally simple egg replacer in this cake: 2 heaped teaspoons of Orgran 'no egg' egg replacer and a quarter teaspoon of xanthan gum. But if you are making it with wheat flour you could probably just use an eighth of xanthan gum.

The write up for the cake is coming very soon, but wanted to tell you now in case your cake turns code critical (!) and you needed to know.

Pig x

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Anonymous, forgot to mention: it's 2 heaped teaspoons of Orgran mixed up with 4 tbsps of rice milk, maybe 5 tbsps coz it can go a bit gloopy because of the rice milk. That was a good technical explanation wasn't it?!