Saturday, August 2, 2014

Herman the German fruit cake and Sherman the chocolate brownie recipe

Barossa valley is known to be one of the early places that German settlers have ventured into (aside from Hunter Valley in NSW) and so, it's not a surprise that German heritage runs through the veins of some locals here. We are fortunate to have bakeries like Apex that still bake their goods in a traditional oven and butchers that houses a good variety of traditional German sausages.

I may have been to Germany in the past but that memory is a vaguely faint to me and so, living in the Barossa gave me an interesting opportunity to have a teaser of what to expect from the winner of FIFA 2014. When I first tasted Herman, I thought it was one of the best cakes I have tasted so far which prompted me to grab a box of it and get straight into the recipe, in an attempt to recreate this delicacy.

Although I did not start making Herman myself, here's the recipe for making the starter. It is a lengthy waiting process but it is well worth it. Trust me;)

Herman the German starter mix ingredients:
5oz plain flour
8 oz caster sugar
1 packet of active dry yeast
Half a pint of warm milk
2 fl oz of warm water

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water for 10 minutes before slowly mixing in the flour and sugar
2. Slowly stir in the warm milk. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave in a cool place for 1 day.

The next 10 days will be the waiting time:
Day 1- 3: stir well
Day 4: Add 1 cup of plain flour, sugar and milk each. Stir well
Day 5 -  8: Stir well
Day 9: Add 1 cup of plain flour, sugar and milk each. Stir well and divide into 4 equal portions (pass this on to someone!)

* I have shortened the days to 8 days as I got impatient and I halved the ingredients added for day 9. I NEED to bake the cake hehe.

Cake ingredients (for 2 round cake tins)
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of plain flour
Half tsp salt
2/3 cups of cooking oil (could substitute with melted butter)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 granny smith apples/ pears, chopped into smaller chunks
1 cup raisins (used my leftover soaked raisin mix as seen here)
2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 portion of Herman starter mix

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

Mix cake ingredients together in a bowl and pour into a lined cake tin. Pour your topping mix over the top (or add a crumble mix if you like) and bake at 160C for 1 hour or until done.

Verdict: loved every bit of it and I thought that using leftover raisin mix that had been soaked for at least 6 months in rum made the cake a lil more fragrant. Herman mix already had a nice boozy aroma and I think its best served warm:)

And because I had "adopted" another box of Herman as nobody wanted it, let's call it Sherman and make him into a chocolate cake. Have read that Herman is a very forgiving type of cake to bake and can be used to create any cake varieties that you  can imagine:)

Chocolate Sherman cake ingredients (makes 2 round cake tins or 1 long rectangle brownie tin):
3/4 cup melted butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp salt
2 tsp kahlua (or vanilla if you prefer a non boozy option - I just had some in the fridge!:)
1 cup mix of dark and white chocolate chunks
1.5 cups of Herman starter mix

Mix everything together and pour into your lined baking tins. Bake at 160C for about 1 hour or until it appears almost done.

*as this is akin to a brownie recipe, I decided to bake it until it is about 90% done and left it to cool in the oven. I like my brownies to have a slightly fudge-y cake texture.

Do give this a try and let me know how you went. I am sure you won't be disappointed:)

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