Today is All Souls Day, traditionally a day to remember our familial ancestors in particular and those who have died generally. In the Catholic tradition it is a time to remember souls who are stuck in purgatory.
In Shropshire, in the west midlands of England however it is a time for soul-caking. 🙂
Up until very recently children in Shropshire would go souling, singing a traditional song in return for alms, or cakes.
“A soul-cake, a soul-cake, please,
good missus, a soul-cake.
One for Peter, two for Paul,
three for Him who saved us all.”
I don’t plan to inflict my singing on you, but a soul cake recipe? That’s a different matter.
There are lots of recipes on the web, and books such as
The ingredients vary quite widely, some call for currants and raisins, others use allspice, one even called for 2 spoons of nutmeg. Some seem to have more of a bread base, others sound like they would be very flat and stodgy.
So I took a combination of recipes and worked one that suits my family of raisin haters. (One unfortunate episode involving projectile vomiting and none of them could look a raisin in the face again. Light weights!)
375g of flour (self raising)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tsp ginger (not authentic but we like ginger)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp mixed spice
155g caster sugar ( I used a mix of caster and vanilla sugar)
90g chopped dates (most recipes call for currants and/or raisins, or omit the dried fruit altogether)
Preheat oven to gas 7.
Sieve dry ingredients into a large bowl. Cube the butter and add to dry ingredients, rub in until it resembles breadcrumbs
Mix in the sugar and the dried fruits. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Beat the egg into the milk and pour in to well. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together to form a stiff dough.
Greas a baking tray or line with baking parchment. Put dollops of mix on the sheet – walnut to golf ball sized and mark with a cross.
Bake for 10-15 mins until golden brown.
Break open a cake, inhale the heady aroma of spice, and thank your ancestors for inventing the soul cake.