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Plastic Free July: let them eat cake!

July 25, 2018

Plastic Free July: let them eat cake!

Vishal says: Plastic Free July is a simple idea, developed in 2011. It raises awareness of the amount of plastic in our lives. It also encourages people to eliminate the use of single-use plastic during July each year.

More often than not, plastic is associated with supermarkets and shops — anywhere selling a tangible product. The problems/ramifications of plastic use are well publicised! Reducing single-use plastic use is absolutely something requiring action. We’re all aware making such changes can be overwhelming/depressing, given the magnitude of the problem. However, there are lots of amazing solutions and ideas — all contributing to plastic reduction solutions.

My home tip is about starting a positive culture (great pun, eh?) …making, eating and sharing CAKE. It helps to be positive, rather than just focusing on the problem.

Introducing Herman the German

I was introduced to Herman once upon a time, when someone left a live culture in a bowl on my desk, with a set of instructions…

It was a live culture, which over 10 days needed stirring and feeding to be kept alive. On the ninth day the culture was divided up, with three portions given away to a friend and my neighbours.

I gave them the set of instructions provided to me — and away they went.

The cake is affectionately known as the Herman the German friendship cake.

There is no plastic involved. It creates a positive cycle, encouraging the gifting/sharing of food (as opposed to buying a cake or buying something with plastic packaging). This is the cake that keeps on giving — and never involves plastic!

I pretty much never bake, but this was incredibly successful — and I love the idea of the culture still doing the rounds many years down the line!

More details and instructions below. Make your cake and enjoy it.

Good luck on your Plastic Free July missions!



Herman the German Friendship Cake

Hello, my name is Herman.

I am a sourdough cake. I'm supposed to sit on your worktop for 10 days without a lid on.

You CANNOT put me in the fridge or I will die. If I stop bubbling, I am dead.

Day1: Put me in a large mixing bowl and cover loosely with a tea towel.

Day 2: Stir well

Day 3: Stir well

Day 4: Herman is hungry. Add 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar and milk. Stir well.

Day 5: Stir well

Day 6: Stir well

Day 7: Stir well

Day 8: Stir well

Day 9: Add the same as day 4 and stir well. Divide into 4 equal portions and give away to friends with a copy of these instructions. Keep the fourth portion.

Day 10: Now you are ready to make the cake. Stir well and add the following:

  • 1 cup of sugar (8oz or 225g)
  • 2 cups plain flour (10oz or 300g)
  • half tsp. (teaspoon) salt
  • 2/3 (two thirds) cup of cooking oil (5.3oz or 160ml)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla essence
  • 2 cooking apples cut into chunks
  • 1 cup raisins (7oz or 200g)
  • 2 heaped tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 heaped tsp. baking powder


  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup melted butter

 Mix everything together and put into a large greased baking tin. Sprinkle with a quarter of a cup of brown sugar and a quarter of a cup of melted butter. Bake for 45 minutes at 170‐180C. Test the middle with a clean knife; you may need to cover in tin foil and bake for a further 20 minutes to make sure your Herman is cooked properly in the middle.

When baked, Herman can be frozen. For more information on Herman the German friendship cake, recipe ideas and baking tips, visit: www.hermanthegermanfriendshipcake.com.

The Herman Starter Mix


  • 5oz (150g) plain flour
  • 8oz (225g) castor sugar
  • 1 packet of active dry yeast
  • ½ pint (10 fl oz or 275 ml) of warm milk
  • 2 fl oz (55 ml) lukewarm water

 What to do:

  1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water for 10 minutes and stir.
  2. Add the flour and sugar then mix thoroughly.
  3. Slowly stir in the warm milk.
  4. Cover the bowl in a clean cloth.
  5. Leave in a cool dry place for 24 hours
  6. Now proceed from day one of the 10 day cycle.

 Measures & Conversions

A ‘cup’ is a measure used in the USA for baking and cooking. Conversions to imperial or metric are as follows: Liquid measures:

Dry measures:

1 x cup = 8 fl oz. (or 240ml)

1 x packet of yeast = approx. 2 tsp.

1 x cup of flour = 5oz (150g)

1 x cup of sugar = 8oz (225g)

1 x cup of brown sugar = 6oz (175g)

1 x cup of raisins = 7oz (200g)


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