Soul Cakes

Thursday 31 October 2019

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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  1. These little soul cakes sound delicious. It is a great shame that 'Halloween' with all its tasteless trappings has replaced the real meaning of All Hallows'Eve and the remembrance of our lost loved ones.

    1. I agree Sandra! HOpe you bake the cakes! xoxo

    2. I’m taking back All Hallows’ Eve. Will be starting this year! God bless. Xoxo

  2. I learned a lot here. These sound really delicious. Love the original traditions that brought the soul cakes into being.

    1. You can't beat food with a history Jeanie! xoxo

  3. So interesting, thanks for sharing!

  4. We are just back from church this morning Feast of All nice to see this interesting recipe ....not heard of it before , it sounds very medieval . We will have them for tea this afternoon ! :)

  5. I couldn't locate the "mixed spices" recipe. Do I need glasses?

  6. These look wonderful. I can smell them. I couldn't find the "mixed spices" recipe, tho'. Do I need glasses?

    1. Its on the right hand column, beneath the title Did You Know. But here you go:

      Make Your Own Mixed Spice:
      You can easily make your own mixed spice: Combine 1 TBS ground cinnamon, 1 tsp each of ground coriander and nutmeg, 1/2 tsp of ground ginger, 1/4 tsp each of ground cloves and all spice. Mix well and store in an airtight container out of the light for up to 6 months.

      Hope this helps!

  7. These look like lovely cookies and I plan to make some. I don't see anything at the right side of the page called "Did You Know", so I am glad you provided your recipe for mixed spice.

    1. You are welcome Linda. I hope you enjoy them. I switched all of the do you know stuff to a page, in the tabs up top. But it doesn't immediately come up. I need to do some work on the page and will once I am settled back in Canada. xoxo

  8. when do you add 100g of currants as you have set aside some for decorating

    1. You add the 100g of currants when you add the flour, etc. You need an additional amount for the decorating. I hope this helps Roma! I also hope that you enjoy them! (I have amended the recipe to reflect this information!)

  9. loved your condensed tomato soup chilli, and your meals for 2 are a god send as i hate wasting food and cooking for one is hard to get the quantities right so thank you x

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment Roma. I, too, hate waste and am trying to do more recipes for just one or two people. It is nice to see that they are appreciated! xoxo


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