Shropshire Soul Cake

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

20131102-135051.jpg include recipes. A lot of them sound quite horrible.

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
185g butter
155g caster sugar ( I used a mix of caster and vanilla sugar)
1 egg
125ml milk
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.



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