EAT: Herman the German friendship pizza

26 May

Last week I was given a Herman.

If you haven’t heard of Herman, you can find out lots about him here. Believed to be an Amish tradition, Herman is a yeast culture that gets fed and passed to friends. Sounds a bit like an STI, but I swear, it’s the base of some delicious baked goods…

I first heard about Herman from my colleague, who was given one by someone else in the office. It sat next to her desk and smelled… yeasty. Also, it bubbled. It was fairly disgusting. After receiving Herman, she had to stir it every day for ten days and on two of those days she had to feed it milk, sugar and flour. On the final day, Herman is divided in to four – one quarter is used as the basis for a delicious cake (which she brought in to the office) and the other three are given away to friends, who start their own Herman chain.

She offered me one of the quarters but after seeing it bubbling away at her desk, I’ll be honest – I wasn’t that keen. But then I tried her cake, and another cake that got brought in to the office, and then I heard that another colleague had made pancakes with them… soon I was convinced and I took my very own Herman home.

After the first three days, I was sure I had killed him. Herman lay there in the plastic container I brought him home in, with barely a bubble on his surface. He looked thick and blobby. Not at all what he was meant to look like. The only reason I convinced myself NOT to give him up for dead was because there were a few small bubbles underneath him.

On day 4 I had to feed him and reading the instructions carefully I then went on to completely mess them up – one cup flour, one cup water, one cup milk. Added, stirring merrily. Reread instructions: one cup flour, one cup milk, one cup sugar. OOPS! I added the sugar. The accidental cup of water meant he was pretty liquidy, so I added some more flour for good measure.

A tad lumpy and still no bubbling

Day 5. Still no real activity, although there were a few bubbles that seemed to be permanently sitting on the top.

Are those bubbles?

Day 6. HE’S ALIVE! I don’t know what caused the change, but on day 6, Herman sprang in to life, bubbling all over himself.

THAT’S more like it!

Because I was going to be out on day 10, I decided to pull everything forward a little bit. I fed him on day 8 and divided/cooked him on day 9. I love a cake as much as the next person, but as technically Herman is a sourdough starter, I decided to make him into pizza instead.

I added flour until it reached a pizza dough like consistency and then added a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Then I let him rest for around an hour, until he was a bit bigger in size.

Dough good!

I rolled him out and put some delicious toppings on him! For the base I used a mixture of tomato paste and pesto, then layered on chorizo slices, mozzarella, cheddar and spring onions.

Wine is an essential ingredient

Hello there

He was delicious! The crust, unsurprisingly, did have a slightly sweet edge to it, but it went really well with the tomatoes. If I were to do it again, I would probably make my own pesto for the base, as I found the shop-bought sauce I used far too salty along with the salty chorizo and salty cheddar. But all in all, it was great and something I would definitely recommend.

YUM!

The only thing I would say is that it wasn’t that friendly. It made enough for two, as opposed to the cake which you can share with lots of friends. But I did give out the other three quarters of my Herman, so that’s pretty friendly, right?

Have you had a Herman? What recipe did you use to cook him?

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