Who is Hermann?


We all know who Horst is by now. But who or what is Hermann? This similarly typical – I’m tempted to say ‘clichéd’ – German name holds many secrets. The most grassroots one of them shall be revealed today exclusively to you, dear faithful readers of the Pommes Buddha blog.

Hermann is actually … a cake! And when I say cake, you Brits must not imagine your version of a cake with lots of sugary yummy icingy twirly baroquey stuff on it. (Of course the British cake tradition has its merits too, as corroborated by crowd favourites such as The Great British Bake Off.) German cake makes no promises. It looks rather … honest but tastes enjoyably – even jolly – good.

Our man Hermann was very popular in the 1970s and ‑80s, and I’ve been told he’s still on the road today. Hermann is no ordinary cake – he is a chain cake. ‘Chain cake’ as in ‘chain letter’: you make the dough in a complex procedure whose main ingredient is TLC, divide it by four and pass three parts on to friends and family. If you feel that a cake is just what your entourage has been missing, Dr. Oetker, well-liked among Britain’s baking-savvy too, has a basic recipe for you. I personally have never made Hermann’s acquaintance, but I was once given sourdough in a jar (also, it seems, a shareable type of dough). It was moving (the experience, not the dough).

Naturally, there is not only one type of cake in Germany. Hermann is a Trockenkuchen, just like Guglhupf. But that is only the beginning. Go to the Konditorei and take your pick: Käsekuchen, Gedeckter Apfelkuchen, Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, Donauwelle … A mouth-watering chocolate cake from Vienna (Austria, of course) is called Sacher Torte. Just to name a few.

So go on and indulge. Or make a Hermann and spread the joy! Perhaps he’ll make it as far as London and meet his namesake Herman ze German, an eatery/caterer/shop with German specialties. The question is, will he be polite enough to meet British standards? We’ll find out about that next week …

The Pommes Buddha says: You can have your Hermann and eat it too.

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