There was a dinner party yesterday evening at THQ, to which one of the guests brought the most thoughtful present I can remember. Instead of the usual combination of service station flowers, hand-me-down chocolates or wine from the shop at the end of the road (are we alone here?) she brought…. a small tupperware container of a gloopy, beige-coloured, boozy concoction which she introduced as “Hermann”.

Hermann the German friendship cake on day 1

Introducing Hermann. At this point we still had NO IDEA what it was…

If – as we were – you’re still in the dark then allow me to bring you up to speed with the trend which is apparently sweeping the nation:

Hermann is a live yeast culture which you can start yourself or inherit from friends. The ingredients are basically flour, sugar and yeast and it bubbles away quite happily on you kitchen worktop over the course of 9 days and all you have to do it top it up occasionally with more nutrients and watch it grow. By the 10th day you should have accumulated enough of the mixture to split 4 ways:  3 you are meant to pot up and give to friends of your own, whilst to the fourth you add more sugar and flour, eggs, apples, raisins and cinnamon and bake into a delicious cake.

This is the theory anyway…