The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

sweet sourdough starter??

pjgoyea's picture

sweet sourdough starter??


Has anyone heard of the Herman cake? It calls for a sweet sourdough starter. The directions for the starter calls for a lot more sugar than I used in making my starter. My question is can I just use regular sourdough starter to make the Herman? and if not can I use a cup of my starter to make a sweeter starter to use for the Herman. Thanks for any help.

Xenophon's picture

Basically it was a sourdough culture that was gifted, almost like a chain letter, together with instructions on keeping and feeding it for a number of days, then dividing up (I think on day 10 or so), gifting away 4/5 and using the remainder for baking.  Apparently it's gone full-circle.  But I don't think there ever was a standard recipe so I'd say you can just do whatever you like best.  If you add normal sugar the yeasts will eat it anyway (assuming the quantity is somewhat reasonable) and it might start getting a distinctive boozy fermentation smell.


What does the instructions which you received call for? (in other words:  I'm curious about the recipe)

adri's picture

Actually it comes with a nice story like "we have to get to know each other; ... go for a walk; ... I'm hungry, ..." but I don't want to translate all of it:

1st day: do nothing
2nd, 3rd, 4th day: stir
5th day: Add 100g flour, 100g sugar, 180g milk (or something like 1cup; 1cup; 1cup)
6th, 7th, 8th, 9th day: stir
10th day: repeat day 5; divide in 3 parts; keep one, give one away, bake a cake with the 3rd.

Cake: 2 Cups of flour; baking powder; vanilla sugar; dash of salt; 3 eggs; 0.5 cups oil; 1cup milk; 1 part Hermann.

adri's picture

Even tough many Hermanns wer started with yeast, and became sourdough just over the time, it is a good Idea to start it directly with sourdough.

If you just have rye sourdough I would feed it with wheat (I'd use flour for pastry) and water first to make it milder. If you already have a wheat-sourdough-starter, jump to the second refreshment; if your starter is very active you can prepare the Hermann dirctly:

First refreshment (4-6 hours == until it is really bubbly):
5g sourdough
10g water
10g wheat

Second refreshment (4-5 hours == until it is really bubbly):
5g of the above
10g water
10g wheat

Now the Hermann (would be a jump do day 5):
5g of the second refreshed dough
100g wheat flour
100g sugar
180g milk

I personally don't like Hermann. Because of the sugar and the mild flavour (caused by the milk), other bacteria/mold might take over.
It is better to not maintain a sourdough with milk but create a new one with milk:

If I want to bake a cake with sourdough, I'll do one or two refreshments as above and then prepare something in german we call "Milchbubi" ("little milk boy" =? milksop):
10g of the refreshed starter (as above)
100g pastry flour
100g milk
Mix it and let it ferment overnight. The extra sugar I'll put in afterwards to the cake dough.

Edit: Another advantage: I don't even need baking powder as the Hermann cake recipe states. A fresh/active sourdough starter and batting the dough produces enough leavening. But if you are in a hurry or unsure, keep it in the recipe.


Xenophon's picture

A word of warning to those wishing to read the recipe in German and enter 'Milchbubi' in the Bing search engine:  apparently some not quite baking related sites also use this as a keyword ;-)....anyway, going to give it a try and see what comes out of the oven...the absence of butter intrigues me.

adri's picture

Milchbubi is just any sourdough (starter) fed with milk.
In general it is very mild which makes it perfect for cakes or sweet bread.

This is what came out of my oven yesterday: Christstollen without yeast or baking powder:

edit: "Milchbubi Sauerteig" will give you results.

DavidEF's picture


First, are there any measurements for the baking powder, sugar, salt, etc. in the Hermann cake recipe you referenced above? Also, does the Hermann starter get refrigerated at any time? If so, at which point(s) do you refrigerate it?

DavidEF's picture

I just answered my own questions. Here: if anyone else is interested. The quick answer: DO NOT REFRIGERATE!

Antilope's picture

Here's a link to a newspaper article about Herman Cake - Sourdough Starter from 1984 in the Google Newspaper archive:


Another article from 1979: