Halloween is one of the festive occasions when it’s so easy to be creative with your food. I was researching tried and tested Halloween baking recipes then I started to wonder. I wanted to know if there were any sort of baking traditions historically intrinsic to Halloween.
I ended up on Tori Avey’s webpage. Tori Avey is a food personality who looks for the history behind food. She wrote an article about the history of Halloween food. I was specifically looking for baked items with a connection to Halloween. Then finally I found a mention about “soul cakes.” I never heard about soul cakes before.
Simply, a soul cake is a small round cake that has the diameter of a muffin. The history of soul cakes is a bit fuzzy. However, by the 8th century soul cakes were a declared tradition. In Western Christianity there is a day called All Souls’ Eve which commemorates the Christians who’ve departed from the world. All Souls’ Day is a few days after Halloween. Soul cakes were given to beggars who came around to houses during All Souls’ Day. In return for Soul cakes, these beggars will say prayers for the house’s family’s lost ones. Over the centuries these cakes changed to become candies and other goodies. Our modern day Halloween trick or treat can be traced back to soul cakes.
There is no single way to make a soul cake. There are soft cakes to flaky cakes. Like many treats on Halloween, soul cakes are highly customizable. Here is a recipe that I have found: