What is a German Friendship Cake

A friend, relative, or neighbour, gives you a little tub of indeterminate goo with instructions to follow for days on end. The goo is actually a sourdough starter for a delicious cake called a German friendship cake. You may wonder what a German Friendship cake, is, sometimes called as Herman the German actually, and where it originates.

The German Friendship cake comes from the Amish Community in America. The Amish originally came from the Anabaptist community in Switzerland. The friendship cake is an adapted recipe, from sourdough bread that the Amish gave to sick and needy neighbours. The Herman recipe is a sourdough cake recipe, which is centuries old.

On receiving the sourdough starter, you need to follow the instructions, which accompany it. You need to put the starter into a large mixing bowl and put it in a safe place, not the ‘fridge, at room temperature, to allow fermentation to occur. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth. You then feed and stir the starter for ten days according to the instructions. Counting the day you receive the starter as day 1, follow the instructions, which came with the starter. Stir on the second and third day, feed on the fourth day with milk, sugar and flour. Stir well and cover. Stir on days five, six, seven, and eight, feed on day 9 and then on day 10 divide the starter into four portions, or however many portions your instructions advise. To one portion add the remaining ingredients and bake your cake. The other three starter portions are, one for your next friendship cake and two to give away. Various web pages carry the instructions for dealing with the Herman starter, but you should follow the instructions which came with your starter, where possible. The instructions look far more complicated in writing than they actually are to accomplish.

You can make your own friendship cake starter. Typing “recipe for friendship cake starter” into an internet search engine will yield many recipes. You do not have to use the starter for the cake detailed in the accompanying instructions, you can use it for other recipes for bread, cakes, and scones. There are many interesting suggestion on the internet. There are even whole websites dedicated to the friendship cake with information and recipe suggestions and variations.

Herman is like an edible chain letter, except it is not as irritating or as threatening as many written chain letters. Tending the sourdough starter and mixing the eventual cake is a good way to involve children in the kitchen. Herman provides an elementary cookery, maths and science lesson. Herman also makes an extremely tasty cake that the family will enjoy.  

Dangers of Eating Raw Horseradish

Most people wouldn’t consider a delicious condiment to be dangerous, but there are actually some mild dangers presented when eating raw horseradish. Horseradish is a plant in the same family as mustard and wasabi. The root is ground and combined with vinegar to create the popular and potent condiment used in dishes around the world. Horseradish roots and leaves have been used throughout history for both culinary and medicinal purposes. In medicine, it is used to treat a number of conditions such as urinary tract infections, kidney stones, bronchitis, some gallbladder issues, and joint pain. It can be taken orally for these conditions or, in some cases, applied directly to the skin for pain. There are some potential dangers when eating raw horseradish though.

Mustard oil

Anyone who has eaten horseradish sauce is familiar with its distinct pungency, which helps to make it a great condiment and cooking ingredient. The pungency is the result of the high concentration of mustard oil contained in the root. In general, for most people, horseradish is safe when consumed in food amounts or mixed with other ingredients. Problems arise when large amounts are consumed, or it is eaten plain and raw because this is when the mustard oil is the most undiluted. 

To begin with, mustard oil can be extremely irritating to mucus membranes like those in the mouth and throat. It can also irritate the eyes, nose, and cuticles like onions and garlic. It can also irritate the entire digestive system and even urinary tracts. It can then result in upset stomach, bloody vomiting and diarrhea. The mustard oil is highly condensed in raw horseradish.

If you suffer from a mustard oil allergy, stomach or intestinal ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease or any sort of digestive tract infection, the mustard oil can result in more severe symptoms and horseradish should not be consumed at all. Horseradish should also never be given to children under four years of age, much less raw horseradish. Their digestive tracts are more sensitive and the mustard oil can cause extreme digestive problems. When pregnant or nursing, horseradish should be consumed very minimally, again because of the mustard oil content.

Effects on the tyroid

Research has also indicated that horseradish can result in the slowing of the thyroid gland. If you suffer from hypothyroidism (an already under active thyroid) horseradish should be avoided. It also potentially interacts with the medicine used to treat hypothyroidism, making the active ingredients less effective.

Again, horseradish consumed in normal amounts in food and for medicinal purposes is not particularly dangerous. The benefits of eating small amounts of horseradish are many. Mustard oil contains glucosinolates, which are known for their cancer-fighting properties and ability to detoxify the liver. Horseradish is only harmful if consumed raw, in excess or if you have preexisting conditions where you should also be avoiding other spicy and strong foods. Eat with caution if you cannot handle food with a kick.