I have a recipe for Herman the German cake and starter that calls for white sugar. One of the comments said the person used brown sugar to feed Herman. It wasn't clear if she used brown sugar to create Herman. I love the flavors brown sugar gives. Can I make a starter using brown sugar? Or does it have to be white sugar to start and then I can switch to brown sugar when I feed Herman?

Here is the initial recipe and the link for the site:

• 5 oz plain flour, sifted • 8 oz castor sugar • 1 packet of active dry yeast (OP recommends using 3 tsp instead of the approx. 2 tsp in a packet) • 1 cup warm milk • 2 oz. warm water




The first link is to the starter recipe. The second link is the instructions on how to feed Herman and the standard Herman the German cake you can make with it. The third link is the recipe where she says she feed Herman with brown muscovado sugar (which Google tells me is similar to brown sugar) and wonders about starting Herman with muscovado sugar.

  • Do you have a link to the recipe? Sep 26, 2014 at 2:43

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure but I think brown suger can also be used to make a Herman. The Herman dough consists of Lactobacillales and yeast. Both need sugar to live. White refined sugar mostly consists of saccharose (99,96 % saccharose, 0,04 % inverted sugar syrup).1 Brown sugar is nothing else than white sugar mixed with molasses. 2 Therefore I assume that you can use brown sugar instead of white sugar. Due to the molasses in the brown sugar you might use a bit more brown sugar than the receipe says for the white sugar. Wikipedia says that "Based on total weight, regular brown sugar contains up to 10% molasses.". I think, about 10% more brown sugar and it will be fine.

1 German Wikipedia article about (the purity levels of) sugar says "Raffinade ist der kristallisierte schneeweiße Zucker mit dem höchsten Reinheitsgrad (99,96 % Saccharose, 0,04 % Invertzucker).", translated: "Refined sugar is the crystallized, snow-white sugar with the highest level of purity (99,96 % saccharose, 0,04 % inverted sugar syrup).

2 English Wikipedia article about brown sugar

  • Thanks. My concern is the molasses would negatively impact the starter. If it doesn't work well, I guess I can always start over!
    – Brooke
    Sep 26, 2014 at 13:39
  • 2
    I read a bit more about molasses. Molasses are also used as feed for yeast in the ethanol-industry (bio-fuel, rum, wodka, etc...). So I think that you don't need to use more sugar. Maybe you can present your results here? :D Sep 26, 2014 at 13:49
  • I can certainly do that. This will be my first starter, so forgive me if I don't know exactly what I'm looking at or doing! :)
    – Brooke
    Sep 26, 2014 at 17:16
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    @ Ching Chong - Finally I have an update! I started my Herman the German starter two weeks ago. I have successfully made it to where he gets split and am half way to the second split. I did make a small adjustment in the feeding schedule, but Herman doesn't seem to mind. The original schedule has me feed & split, stir for two days, feed, stir for four days, then feed & split. I changed it to feed & split, stir for three days, feed, stir for three days, feed and split. I have been feeding with 1 cup flour - sifted, 1 cup dark brown sugar, and 1 cup warm milk. So far so good! :)
    – Brooke
    Jan 22, 2015 at 17:23
  • 1
    The cake I made with the starter was also good. Not as sweet as I would have liked, but not horrible (I have a SWEET tooth).
    – Brooke
    Jan 22, 2015 at 17:24

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