EDITOR’S NOTE: Gloria is taking a much-deserved summer break to visit family in Ohio. She’ll return either next week or the week after. Just Plain Rosanna columnist, Rosanna Bauman, is filling in this week.
The first time I met Herman, it was under somewhat somber circumstances, but it was definitely laughter at first sight. It was nearly a year and a half after my maternal grandmother’s death until we gathered to divide up her possessions. This naturally included her recipe collection. We quietly passed around Grandma Nead’s stash of hand-written cards, savoring memories of the many dishes she had lovingly prepared for her family. Suddenly, my eyes caught an old newspaper clipping: “Herman Starter?!” I burst into unexpected laughter. What in the world was this recipe for Herman? I had never heard the like. It is, apparently, a sourdough-style quick bread similar to the Amish Friendship Bread, but uniquely umm, Herman.
Now, if more young girls realized that there was such a thing as a Herman Starter, there may be more girls whisking up this recipe with romantic notions in mind. I know they say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but I do not know if the results would be the same if one admitted to the boyfriend that the delicious bread he ate was Herman.
Like any good male, Herman needs to be fed. Unlike most males, he only needs fed every five days. I am considering giving Herman Starter to some of my likewise unmarried friends as an old-maid joke. After all, what better fellow could a girl ask for than Herman? He sits quietly in the corner of the kitchen, never tracking mud in the house. He doesn’t need someone to cook for him three times a day, and when he does require sustenance, it is a simple diet of milk, sugar, and water. And I’m sure he‘ll listen quietly whenever you have to unload about your stressful day, no matter how long or tearful he telling. Plus, he smells good, like cinnamon and nutmeg instead of oil and sweat. What more could a girl ask for? Okay, I admit he probably won’t contribute much toward the household finances, but you never know.
That’s probably enough snarky comments about poor Herman, but that’s exactly what I like about him is the potential for humor. I have no clue just what kind of history this Herman Bread has. Although I am sure it is a very interesting history, I have made no effort to find out yet as I am still too amused with its name to color it with any practicality. It is more fun to imagine how Herman Starter got his name than to find out that it is the name of a county where this recipe originated. And the actual recipe? I can stop chuckling long enough to tell share how to make some Herman for yourself.
Mix one tablespoon dry yeast with 1/2 cup warm water. Mix in two teaspoons sugar or honey, 2 1/2 cups flour and two cups of warm water. Place in a glass or plastic jar, not metal. Cover the jar with a damp cloth and fasten with a rubber band. Keep at room temperature for five days, then feed him. Feed Herman early in the morning with one cup milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and one cup flour. Place Herman into the refrigerator and keep covered.
Stir Herman every day, but do not feed until five more days have passed. Then feed Herman another cup of milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and one cup flour. Herman should be about four cups’ worth of starter now. Use two cups to bake Herman Bread, reserve one cup for growing another Herman, and pass one cup of Herman Starter on to a friend, because, apparently, the world needs more Hermans!
2 cups Herman starter
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chopped nuts
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup oil
1 cup raisins or other fruit (optional)
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup melted butter
Mix together all of the ingredients and pour into a greased 9 x 13-inch pan.
Mix together streusel topping and sprinkle over Herman.
Bake 350 for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Rosanna Bauman is Old Order German Baptist Brethren and lives in Kansas. The Brethren are a “Plain” church, but different from the Amish in theology and doctrinal interpretation.