I have a new friend called Herman and he is currently sitting in a bowl on the worktop in the kitchen. No, I have not got another cat or a bizarre new fetish, Herman’s other name is an Amish Friendship Cake and until yesterday I had not heard of him. A work colleague sent me a text last night asking whether I would like to become acquainted with Herman, and I could not resist.

The idea is that Herman sits in the kitchen for nine days, and that every few days he gets hungry so you have to feed him. On day nine, he is divided to make four little Hermans (or quadruplets if you like), three of which are passed on to friends while the fourth has flavourings such as vanilla, cinnamon, clove, and fruit added and it is then cooked.

Herman is a sourdough cake and originates in Germany. You make a starter by dissolving yeast in water, and adding sugar and flour. He then sits in a large bowl in the kitchen until he needs feeding and ultimately until he is ready to go in the oven. The challenge is to keep him alive, and my Herman spent the afternoon in a rather cool car, so I hope he did not develop hypothermia.

This is Herman at the moment. More photographs will follow with an update in a few days.