Thursday 31 October 2019

Soul Cakes

One thing which I have always loved about the UK is all of the food traditions and superstitions they have surrounding the holidays and holy-days of the year.  

Halloween is also known as All Hallows' Eve, All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.

Soul Cakes are old English traditional cakes that are usually baked on Halloween. 

On this day of the year, in years gone past, Children would go 'souling', on this day, singing from house to house for some of these tasty cakes. 

This was in all likelihood a precursor today's custom of children going  Trick-or-Treating. 

In Christian countries, and in the Roman Catholic church, prayers for the souls of the departed are reflected in the 3 day celebration of the commemoration of the departed which begins on the 31st of October, or All Hallow's Eve.

November 1st is known as All Saint's day, a day on which the souls of those who have departed are venerated  . . . 

And on the 2nd of November, we have All Souls' Day when the souls of those who have departed are prayed for . . . and in particular those family members who are still in purgatory and awaiting their entry into Heaven.

The souls of these people were believed to be spending a period of time suffering in Purgatory to pay for sins committed during their earthly lives.

Prayers and vigils were thought to ease their suffering, hasten their release from Purgatory and entry into Heaven. 

In early times, when England was a Catholic country, poor people stood at the wayside begging for food or money as ecclesiastical processions passed by.

In exchange for food and alms, they prayed for the souls of the dead. Traditionally, on All Souls Day, they were given soul cakes. 

One cake eaten was thought to release one soul from Purgatory, opening its way to Heaven.

Whatever the background behind these traditions one thing remains . . .  these are very delicious cakes. 

So delicious that between my husband and myself, we have released a good half a dozen souls today alone  . . .

And who knows how many we are going to release before we are finished.  All for the greater good! 

Seriously these are some very tasty cakes!  I really hope you will try them!

Yield: Makes about 2 dozen

Soul Cakes

Soul Cakes

A buttery biscuit/cookie/cake, lightly spiced and studded with currants.  A traditional recipe served on All Hallows 'Eve in the UK.


  • 175g butter (3/4 cup +1 TBS)
  • 175g caster sugar (1 cup less 1 1/2 TBS)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 450g self raising flour (3 cups less 1 1/2 TBS)
  • 2 tsp mixed spice (see my recipe)
  • a few gratings nutmeg
  • about 100ml milk (6 1/2 TBS)
  • 100g dried currants plus  handful to decorate (2/3 cup)
  • demerera sugar to decorate (turbinado)


How to cook Soul Cakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5.  Line several baking sheets with baking paper. Set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolks. Sift together the flour, mixed spice and nutmeg.  Add to the creamed mixture along with the milk to give you a soft dough that you can easily roll out. Stir in the currants.
  3. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin to 1/3 inch thickness.  Cut into rounds with a 3 inch biscuit cutter.  Using the dull side of a knife mark  a light cross indentation into the tops of each biscuit. Push additional currants into the crosses.  Sprinkle with a bit of demerara sugar and place about 2 inches apart on the baking trays. 
  4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until puffed and golden brown.  Scoop off onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Store in an airtight container.

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In modern times I cannot imagine allowing your children to beg at the side of the road or even door to door things such as baked goods.  You never know who you can trust or who you can't trust. Even candy wise, I think I would be a lot more circumspect in these modern times than I would have been in days gone by.  They call it progress  . . . 

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Wednesday 30 October 2019

Melt in Your Mouth Pumpkin Muffins

As a child I was not overly fond of the flavour of pumpkin or winter squash for that matter.  Thankfully as an adult my opinion of such things has changed!  Pumpkin and squash are two of my favourite things!

Especially in the autumn, but then again that makes sense as that is the time of year that these gorgeous vegetables are available.  Or are they a fruit?

I looked it up and Good Housekeeping says that they are fruits.  Fruits are the fleshy or dry ripened ovary of any plant containing seeds.  When you think about it, babies are considered to be the fruit of your womb, so I guess that pumpkins and squashes are indeed fruits.

Fruit, vegetable, whatever  . . .  I don't care.  I just love them both roasted, mashed or baked into sweet bakes such as muffins, cakes, pies, cookies, etc.  They also make fabulous autumn soups.

I think one of the reasons they work so well in baked goods is the naturally affinity they have for the flavours of warm baking spices. 

Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom . . . vanilla.  All go very well with pumpkin . . .

But then again, so do garlic, chillies, curry, etc.  I guess they are quite happy either as a savoury treat or a sweet treat!

You will love these muffins. They are simple to make and smell heavenly when they are baking.

Moist and delicious, they are one of those mysterious baked goods whose flavour improves upon standing.

I always think they are at their best the day after they have been baked, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to enjoy one soon after they've been baked.

On the day, the day after, whenever!  These are delicious muffins no matter when you choose to enjoy them!  They are also great luncheon additions.

Try enjoying them along with a chicken or vegetable salad or even a bowl of soup.  A bit unconventional maybe, but really don't knock it until you try it!

Yield: 12

Melt in Your Mouth Pumpkin Muffins

Melt in Your Mouth Pumpkin Muffins

prep time: cook time: total time:
Sweet, golden and delectable.  Tis the season! They smell heavenly when they are baking. If you are not fond of raisins, dried cranberries also work well as do dried blueberries.


  • 190g caster sugar (1 cup)
  • 60ml vegetable oil (1/4 cup)
  • 2 medium free range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 135g canned pumpkin puree (3/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 60ml water (1/4 cup)
  • 210g plain flour (1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 115g raisins (3/4 cup)
  • 60g chopped toasted walnuts (1/2 cup


How to cook Melt in Your Mouth Pumpkin Muffins

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.  Line a medium 12 cup muffin tin with some paper liners. set aside.
  2. Whisk together in a bowl,  the sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin, vanilla and water.
  3. Sift together the flour, soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  Stir all at once into the wet ingredients and mix together just until moistened. Stir in the raisins and nuts.  Cover with a tea towel and let sit on the counter top for about 20 minutes.
  4. Divide the batter between the lined muffin cups.  Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until well risen and the tops spring back when lightly touched.  Tip out onto a wire rack and allow to cool slightly before serving. Delicious!

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I think pumpkin season is one of my favourite seasons of the year.  I say bring it on.  I know people go crazy for Pumpkin Spice.  I am trying to understand that.  You see pumpkin spice all sorts this time of year. Latte's, etc. Isn't pumpkin spice just cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger?  That's what I thought.  Its funny how people's minds work.  Anyways, I hope you will bake these and enjoy them as much as we do.  I enjoyed mine with a hot cup of apple spiced tea! Yum!    

Monday 28 October 2019

Braised Sausages with an Apple Gravy

Most men are real meat and potatoes people. My father is, all my sons are, and so are my grandsons also!

My husband is also a real meat and potatoes fan.  He could quite happily have meat and potatoes every night of the week and never tire of it!  He especially loves pork chops or sausages!  

They have beautiful sausage here in the UK. They have nasty ones as well (think cheap and filled with lots of fillers, pasty textured, blecch).  But I think that is the same anywhere. 

If you are open to paying a bit more, there are loads of beautiful sausages you can buy for your family. Beautiful sausages which are meaty and flavourful with lovely skins that snap when you bite into them!

In my opinion a good sausage will contain at least 70% of good quality meat with the remainder being seasonings, fat (you need fat in a good sausage) and rusks or bread crumbs. 

I have had really low fat sausages and have always found them to be hard and dry.  You need a bit of fat in a sausage or why bother to have one!  

Fat adds flavour and is a part of what makes them succulent and delicious.

Here in the UK there are literally hundreds of different kinds/flavours of sausage.  Most butchers will have their own speciality sausages. 

The butcher who used to be down at the Parade where I live had gorgeous ones.  Sadly he closed down a few years back. He just couldn't compete with the big grocery shops I think, which was a real shame.

There is nothing nicer than a well made Butchers sausage.  Well worth every penny.  Most areas in the UK also have their speciality sausages as well, such as Gloucester, Cumberland, Lincolnshire, Manchester,  Oxford, Yorkshire, etc. 

They even have square sausage known as the Lorne Sausage, generally composed of pork and beef and served cut into slices. It comes from Scotland.  

I have seen it at Costco, and been tempted to buy, but haven't tried it as of yet. It would be great in sandwiches I think!

You can get apple and leek sausages, leek sausages, mustard and caramelised onion,  Stilton and cranberry, etc.  There is really no end to the variety out there!

The world literally is your oyster when it comes to choice in the British sausage!

My favourites are Cumberland.  They are nicely spiced and peppery.  You can get them in links or coiled up (Catherine Wheels).  

The best are found right in Cumbria itself.  I remember buying beautiful ones for our supper when we were staying up there one year. My taste buds still tingle when I think of them! They were so delicious!

Yes, I am a foodie through and through and the food we get to eat and try when we are on holiday is (truth be told) has always been the best part of any holiday for me!

To me, not tasting the food of a place you are visiting is a bit of a sacrilege! Food and culture just go together like peas and carrots!

This is a very autumnal recipe I am sharing here with you today.  Hearty, rich and comforting.  This is a real belly warmer!

Family pleasing. Man pleasing. 

You begin with plump, perfectly browned fabulously flavoured sausages. 

These are braised in a beautifully flavoured gravy. A rich and lush gravy. A can-I-have-just-one-more-spoonful kind of a gravy!

Filled with the flavours of earthy and oniony leeks and  tart cooking apples. With sweet apple juice and sharp grainy mustard.

This is combined with the smokiness of bacon and those rich flavours from the sausages.

Altogether this is a fabulously tasty dish. Hearty and beautifully flavoured. You really can't go wrong.

 I think you are about to fall in love with this beautiful dish. Prepare yourself!

Yield: 4

Braised Sausages with an Apple Gravy

Braised Sausages with an Apple Gravy

Proper delicious bangers braised with leeks, apple and apple juice for a hearty autumn supper.  Perfect served with fluffy mash and a vegetable on the side.


  • 2 tsp light olive oil
  • 8 fat good quality pork sausages (I like Cumberland)
  • 1 medium leek, trimmed and washed
  • 6 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped
  • 300ml cloudy apple juice (1 1/4 cup sweet apple cider)
  • 1 large cooking apple (I used Bramley)
  • 2 TBS grainy mustard


How to cook Braised Sausages with an Apple Gravy

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet which has a tight fitting lid.  Add the sausages and cook, turning frequently, for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown all over.  Remove and set aside.
  2. Trim the leek, removing and discarding any dark green parts. Slit down one side and rinse well, making sure any grit or dirt is gone. Cut into 3 inch lengths and then slice the lengths into 1/4 inch strips. Return the skillet to the heat and add the leeks and bacon pieces. Stir fry for 5 to 6 minutes, until the leeks have softened and the bacon is cooked.  Return the sausages to the pan and pour on the apple juice.  Cover tightly and braise over low heat for 30 minutes over low heat.
  3. Peel and core the apple. Dice into 1/4 inch dice.  Add to the pan, scattering it around the sausages.  Cover and cook for a further 15 minutes on low, or until the apple has softened and begins to break down, and the pan juices have thickened. If you think the pan juices are too thick add some more apple juice.
  4. Stir in the grainy mustard and heat through.  Serve immediately with lots of fluffy mashed potatoes and your favourite vegetables on the side.

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Don't be tempted to use a sweet eating apple in this. You really want a tart cooking apple to offset the sweetness of the apple juice.  This is just perfect  . . .  absolutely.  We enjoyed it with fluffy hot mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.

This content (written and photography) is the sole property of The English Kitchen. Any reposting or misuse is not permitted. If you are reading this elsewhere, please know that it is stolen content and you may report it to me at: mariealicejoan at aol dot com Thanks so much for visiting. Do come again! 

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Saturday 26 October 2019

Lemon Splits

I've been pretty laid out with my back this past couple of weeks and have not really been cooking anything new for the most part. 

The pain has been pretty bad, but finally today I feel like I have begun to turn the corner somewhat and so I decided to do a new recipe to share on here. Lemon Splits!

It's okay if you don't know what they are.  I had never heard of them either before I moved here to the UK.  I have always loved Lemon flavoured anything.  

Those lemon puff cookies were my favourite when I was growing up.  Buttery lemon flavoured crackers put together with lemon icing. If you are a lemon aficionado you will know exactly the ones I mean!

I discovered these Lemon Splits in the grocery shop about a year or so ago. What they are is plain Welsh Cakes, without the spice and raisins, put together with a layer of lemon curd in the middle.  My goodness but they are some tasty. 

They don't always have them in the shops however so it is hit and miss as to if you can find them or not.  I looked for a recipe online but couldn't find one anywhere.

I decided to take the bull by the horns and create my own.  I have made Welsh Cakes in the past.  You can find that recipe here.   

Welsh cakes are really good. They are like a cross between a pastry and a scone in my opinion.  Buttery with a short texture and oh so tasty, especially when served with a hot bevvie!

They are a very traditional Welsh teatime treat and you will find them all over Wales.  They are extremely good I have to say.  

All of the teatime treats in the British Isles are extremely good.  They know how to bake good things! 

So what I did was make Welsh Cakes, without the spice or the raisins  . . . 

Lemon Splits

Just plain  . . . flour, butter, sugar and an egg. You might need to add a bit of milk to the dough, but my dough was perfect without it.  

In fact I had to generously dust my board and pin with flour or it would have stuck too much.

I baked them on my Pampered Chef Griddle pan.  You need to heat it so that its not scalding hot and not too cool.  

You can use a heavy based non-stick skillet as well.  The important thing to remember is to not have it too hot, or the outside will brown too quickly and they won't be done inside.

I heated mine over medium low and once it was heated I turned it down to low.  This worked well for me, about 2 to 3 minute per side did the trick. 

I knew it was time to flip them over when they started looking a bit puffy on top and were golden brown on the bottom.

When they were done they were golden brown on both sides and the edges looked dry.  That's the best that I can explain it.

You can of course make your own lemon curd to fill these from scratch and I have a darn good recipe that you can find here

But a really good quality store bought one works just fine also and sometimes that's all we have time for!

These are perfect!  We both enjoyed them very much, even the "so-called lemon hater". Methinks he doth protest too much personally!  

He scarfed two down right away no problemo!  If you really don't like lemon, these would be awfully nice sandwiched together with your favourite jam as well. 

Ohh, black currant jam or jelly would be lovely!

Yield: Makes 12 to 14

Lemon Splits

Lemon Splits

prep time: cook time: total time:
Traditional Welsh Cakes without the raisins, sandwiched together with lemon curd. Don't worry if you don't have a griddle or hot stone to cook them on, they will cook perfectly find in a skillet with a heavy base.


  • 225g self rising flour (1 1/2 cups + 2TBS)
  • 110g salted butter (1/2 cup minus 1 tsp)
  • 85g caster sugar (7 TBS)
  • 1 medium free range egg
  • Milk (if needed)
  • flour to dust the cutting board
  • butter to grease the griddle (optional)
  • good quality lemon curd to fill


How to cook Lemon Splits

  1. Sift the flour into a bowl.  Drop in the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine dry bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar with a fork. Beat the egg and stir it into the mixture to form a ball of dough, adding a splash of milk if you need it. (I did not need it.)
  2. Generously flour a board and then tip the dough out onto it, also generously flouring the dough. Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into rounds using a 2 1/2 inch round fluted cutter.   Re-roll any scraps and cut again, until all the dough has been used up.
  3. Heat a heavy grill stone or non-stick griddle pan over medium low heat until fairly hot.  Brush lightly with butter if desired. (I didn't use any.) Add the welsh cakes and bake them for 2 to 3 minutes on one side. They should be golden brown on the bottom. Flip them over and bake for a further 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown on the other side.  Try not to have the temperature of the griddle too high or they will brown too quickly on the outside and not be cooked in the centre.  ( It was my observation that they were ready to flip over when the tops looked kind of puffy.)
  4. Remove from the pan with a spatula to a wire rack to cool. 
  5. To make the lemon splits, sandwich two together with lemon curd in the centre.  You can dust with some icing sugar to serve.  Store any leftovers in an airtight container.

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