Fig & walnut (friendship) bread
29th October 2013

Fig & walnut (friendship) bread

By Sara Photography by Emma

A couple of months ago I was at a friend’s house when I noticed a bowl of batter sitting on their kitchen bench and on top, a single white A4 piece of paper titled ‘German Friendship Cake’. I was fascinated – was this the food equivalent of a chain letter?

Now I’ve known people to have starters bubbling away in their kitchens but some seem like more work than looking after a domestic cat. I’ve also heard how unwilling people are to share their starters so I just love that this is a concept where the creator divides and shares their wares on day 10. What says “you are my friend” better than giving someone a cake mixture?!

My friend’s mixture came from his father and so I initially questioned whether it had been passed through generations, whether I had in fact discovered a centuries-old family heirloom? I didn’t but that would have made a great story.

If you do happen to receive a portion of mixture (aka Herman) from a friend, you can follow my recipe on making it into bread. Alternatively you can stick to tradition and follow the recipe – adding apple and cinnamon.

If you’re not gifted a mixture you can make your own from scratch – just search online for ‘German Friendship Cake’.


Makes two loaves
  • Day 1
  • 1 portion of friendship cake mixture (Herman)
  • Days 2-10
  • Ingredients as per instructions (however day 9 sees a modification – see method)
  • Day 10
  • 500g strong white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 240ml tepid water
  • 1 portion friendship mixture (Herman)
  • --
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped roughly
  • 1 cup figs, chopped roughly


    • Day 1
    • 1. Receive a portion of friendship cake mixture (Herman)
    • Days 2-9
    • 2. Follow the instructions however on day 9 do not add sugar (only flour and milk).
    • 3. Portion into 4.
    • Day 10
    • 4. Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Alternatively you can use a mixer with a dough hook attachment.
    • 5. Mix the water with the friendship cake mixture (Herman) and pour into the centre of the well.
    • 6. Gradually work the ingredients together. Add a little more water if it seems to dry or more flour if too sticky.
    • 7. Add the walnuts and figs, turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.
    • 8. Put the dough into a clean bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for a couple of hours (until doubled in size).
    • 9. Knock back, then shape into two long loaves. Cover again and leave for another couple of hours.
    • 10. Bake at 220ºC for 20 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped.
    • 11. Serve fresh with a soft cheese such as brie or camembert.


    1. Leben am Land

      Oh i love Hermann :)
      if I get it the nixt time, i will make this bread :)

    2. Sara

      Thanks for you comment – good luck with the bread; I have to warn you it’s highly addictive!

    3. margb

      Can you help me? – what function do you use for wholemeal bread? I have recently changed ovens to a F&P pyrolytic lined and am finding that fan forced at 230 degrees which worked well in my previous oven gives me a very sunken loaf. I realise the recipe above is not a yeast loaf but am hoping you can help me get my lovely high risen loaf again.


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