In Germany, Hermann, a sweet sourdough, is probably one of the most common forms of sourdough. It is made from wheat flour and is mostly used for baking cakes. Since the 1970s, it has been passed around like a chain letter. Around 1980, the time of the German peace and ecology movement, a letter with care instructions was added when giving it away.
In the United States, this dough is known as Amish Friendship Bread. The cake-like bread with cinnamon baked with it is traditionally distributed to friends or needy people. The American version tastes a little sweeter than a dough made from Hermann. For both recipes you need dry yeast for baking.
Is it possible without added yeast?
I'm more into wild yeast, so I tried to prepare a sweet dough without purchased yeast. With success! My sweet, wild yeast dough I call Hermione, or Hermine in German, and it is fabulous for baking cakes. Or for sweet breads and rolls.
Hermione, the sweet sourdough
- 1 glass jar
- 1 dishtowel or cloth napkin
- 1 rubber band
- 1 jam or other screw top jar
- 1 fork
- 63 gr. wheat flour per day for 5-7 days
- 59 gr. water per day for 5-7 days
SUGAR TRANSFORMATION, 5-7 days later (per feeding, at least 3x).
- 25 gr. water, 60-80° C
- 15 gr. sugar
- 30 gr. firm sourdough starter
- 50 gr. white wheat flour
MILK TRANSFORMATION and FEEDING, from 2 days later (per feeding).
- 100 gr. starter
- 100 gr. wheat flour
- 150 gr. sugar
- 150 ml milk
- Combine 1⁄2 cup (63 g) flour and 1⁄4 cup (59 g) water in your glass container and mix thoroughly. The mixture should not exceed one-third of the container, as it will expand significantly when fermentation begins.
- Cover the vessel with the fabric and the rubber band and let it stand for 24 hours at room temperature, between 18° and 22°C.
- To feed the starter, add 1⁄2 cup (63 g) flour and 1⁄4 cup (59 g) water. Mix well, cover loosely and let stand at room temperature until the next day.
- On day 3, the sourdough will likely begin to show bubbles. From now on, feed every 12 hours to keep it active. If it becomes too much dough for the vessel, just remove some before feeding and add to a batter. I usually use it to make quick pancakes or cookies.If the dough seems too firm or too runny, adjust the amount of flour and water accordingly.
- By day 5 at the latest, the starter should be bubbling and thus doubling in volume every 12 hours. It now tastes tangy and flavorful and is ready for sugar transformation. If the starter is not active enough, continue feeding every 12 hours. If the starter still has not started on the 10th day, discard and start again.
- In the morning, dissolve the sugar in the hot water. First add the starter and stir until foamy. This works well with a fork. Afterwards add the flour and knead to a firm dough. Cover and let rise for 4-5 hours at 26°-28° C. A jam jar or a jar with a screw top works very well here.Repeat twice.
- After about 15 hours, chill the mixture for 12-24 hours, preferably in the refrigerator.
- By the way, this dough can be kept indefinitely if you feed it every three days with the ingredients from above.
- For the transition to the bake ready dough and for continuous feeding add flour, sugar and milk. Let stand warm for 2-3 hours and then store in the refrigerator. Feed once a week.For baking keep in the warmth for 5-6 hours after feeding.
Sweet sourdough, Harvard and science
During my Harvard studies to become a fermentista, I also had to prepare a sourdough. Naturally, this involved scientifically analyzing and understanding the principles behind it. I took various measurements of the dough every day. If you are also interested in such things, then do a simple measurement and find out the measurable acid development of the dough. For this you need pH strips* to find out the pH of the dough. Hold one side of the strip in the dough for 10 seconds and read the displayed value. Do not forget to write down your observations.
What do you notice?
Baking with sweet sourdough
I love Hermione especially for cakes with slightly alcoholic fermented fruits and spices. The dough rises really well, and makes a very very tasty, sweet cake. All without added yeast!
* I buy my test strips here https://www.hobbybrauerversand.de/PH-Messstreifen-10-Stueck-pH-38-55?fml=1. The scale is suitable for all types of ferments and they are very reliable for home use.
If you order through the linked recommendation, a share of the purchase price goes to me (at no extra cost to you, you know the principle under the name Affiliate Links). I take the commission as your appreciation for my work as a writing fermentista and thank you if you trust my recommendations.