Saturday Bakes & Cakes:
All Soul’s Day and a Traditional Soul-Cakes Recipe
November is not my favourite month, after the beauty of September and October with the bounty of harvests, crimson and yellow leaves and mellow sunny days, November always seems drab and dull to me, and it’s usually when the grey, wet and cold weather sets in too. Plus, the clocks have gone back, and although we have lighter mornings, I hate the darker and longer nights……it’s almost claustrophobic, with curtains drawn at 5 to 5:30 pm, I miss the daylight. It’s also the month of Remembrance with Armistice Day being on the 11th November and All Soul’s Day (Day of the Dead) being on the 2nd November, today as it happens, and therefore it always seems so sombre. On the run up to Remembrance Sunday last year, I decided to live off WW11 rations for a week, along with two friends Janice and Fiona, you can see my posts here: The Wartime Kitchen: Living of Rations with Ration Book Cooking……..I had planned to do the same thing this year too, but I may have to cut it back to just a couple of days as time is running out! However, I am not in a sombre mood today, as there is a glimmer of sunshine, even if it is only a weak, watery glimmer, and I have a day in the kitchen planned, it’s baking day and I plan to make pies, cakes, bread and biscuits. My first bakes for the day are these Soul-Cakes, a traditional cake-cum-biscuit which were traditionally made on All Soul’s day and distributed by the rich to the poor of the parish.
All Soul’s Day is celebrated more in Catholic countries now, but we did used to observe it in the UK until fairly recently. It follows Halloween (Hallowe’en), or All Hallow’s Eve as it should be called, and All Saint’s Day (All Hallow’s Day – Hallow being the old English word for Saint) which is on the 1st November, a day devoted to commemorating saints and martyrs of the Christian faith. All Soul’s Day is a day where families visit their family’s graves in France, with pots of chrysanthemums, as an act of remembrance and respect, although in the UK we used to observe it more as an ancient Celtic festival called “Samhain” or “Feast of the Dead” and it as kept as fast day with bonfires lit at night, especially on high ground, in order to light the soul’s way to heaven. And that’s where Soul-Cakes come in the British culinary tradition – “Souling” would take place the night before All Soul’s day, where “Soulers” would travel from door to door begging for soul-cakes and spiced ale in return for prayers and songs.
But back to the recipe and today, and my LOVELY new baking kit that was sent to me recently by Churchill China, whom I work with….these little cakes are more like a cross between a scone and a biscuit, and are very easy to make. They are packed with currants and are flavoured with mixed spice. The little cakes are then marked with a cross before being baked and make a simple and lovely treat for afternoon tea nowadays – and, no “souling” is needed to enjoy these today!
My lovely Penzance baking pack that I was sent as part of my ongoing partnership with Churchill China comprises:
Biscuit Barrel (Tin), Tin Tea Tray, Rolling Pin, Set of Measuring Cups, Flour Dredger, Set of 2 Tea Towels, Pudding Basin and an Apron
I was thrilled to bits with my new Penzance additions and I have FOUR special posts and recipes planned to showcase the baking range, as well as a FABULOUS opportunity for my readers to win one of FOUR baking packs here:
The rolling-pin is ceramic and is perfect for rolling pastry, keeping it cool as well as being decorative, and as well as using the little measuring cups for measuring, I also found that they are brilliant when you need to separate eggs! The flour dredger is a wonderful addition to my baking range and looks pretty as well as being practical. And, I am always in need of new tea towels……
…..and of course I now have an airtight biscuit barrel in which to store my soul cakes too! I am sharing the recipe for Soul-Cakes below, it comes from one my favourite books of all time, Cattern Cakes and Lace; and I have featured it before on Lavender and Lovage here: St Catherine’s Day, Lace Makers and Cattern Cakes.
That’s all for today, I hope you have a lovely weekend, and don’t forget that next week we have another British day to celebrate, Guy Fawkes Night aka Bonfire Night, and I will be cooking up some NEW Bonfire recipes over the weekend, as well as sharing some family favourites such as Bonfire Chilli with Beef, Chocolate and Pumpkin…….See you later and DO try these little soul-cakes out, they are easy to make and a real treat! Karen
Disclaimer: I received a Churchill china Penzance dinnerware service for free, in order to share and showcase the china with my readers as part of my sponsored collaboration with Churchill China. With thanks to Churchill China for sending me some further items from the Penzance range to use and review. I was not asked to write a positive review and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Karen S Burns-Booth
I am also entering these biscuits into the following challenges: