This night we come a souling,
good nature to find,
And we hope you'll remember
It's Soul Caking time!
Christmas is coming and
the geese are getting fat.
Please put a penny in
the Old Man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny
a ha'penny will do,
If you haven't got a ha'penny,
God bless you!
-- Traditional, quoted inquoted in The Real Halloween by Sheena Morgan, p. 25.
Soul cakes could vary greatly between countries and regions, but here are some example recipes for you to try at home.
The following recipe is from Sheena Morgan's The Real Halloween, p. 92. She notes that soul cakes could come in many different forms with widely varying ingredients, and this is a very simple version. Basically, they're like small raisin tarts. It gives amounts for ingredients in different measuring systems. I would like to point out that if you are unable to fix the mixture of dried fruit that she describes, you can substitute another one that's too your liking because the concept of soul cakes in general is very flexible. Likewise, any seasoning you might decide to add would also be to your taste.
- 8 oz./225 g pie crust (or 1 package of already made)
- 3/4 cup/115 g dried mixed fruit (currants, raisins, golden raisins)
- 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar or 2 Tbsp. honey
- 1 Tbsp. sweet butter, melted
- Roll out the pastry with a rolling pin and use it to line some nonstick mini-tart pans.
- Mix the fruit, brown sugar, and butter.
- Pile a very small spoonful into the center of each pastry shell.
- Bake in a preheated oven, 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 10-15 minutes.
This is another variation of soul cake. This recipe comes from A Halloween How-To by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, pp. 169-170, and Bannatyne notes that the recipe was originally from "Saints and Soul-caking" by Maggie Black in History Today, November 1981.
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup dark molasses
- 3 1/2 cups oatmeal
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 cup milk
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8 inche square pan.
- Put butter and molasses in a heavy saucepan and heat gently; stir together, then put aside.
- In a mixing bowl, mix together oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, ginger, salt, and tartar..
- In a small bowl, stir the baking soda into the milk until it's dissolved.
- Pour the butter and molasses mixture into the dry mixture, stir slightly, then add the milk. Stir thoroughly.
- Turn into pan and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan.
- Cut into bars or squares. Serve with butter (this dense, delicious cake will keep for weeks in a cool place).
Did you ever eat Colcannon
When 'twas made with thickened cream
And the greens and scallions blended
Like the picture in a dream?
Did you ever scoop a hole on top
To hold the melting cake
Of clover-flavored butter
That your mother used to make?
Did you ever eat and eat, afraid
You'd let the ring go past,
And some old married sprissman
Would get it at the last?
God be with the happy times
When trouble we had not,
And our mothers made colcannon
In the little three-legged pot.
-- A traditional Irish song, quoted in The Real Halloween by Sheena Morgan, p. 96.
Colcannon, or calceannann, is a traditional Irish dish served at Halloween. Part of the tradition is to hide a ring in the dish. The person who receives the ring in their portion will supposedly marry in the following year (Morgan 96).
The following recipe is from Sheena Morgan's The Real Halloween, p. 96.
- A ring wrapped in waxed paper
- 1 finely chopped onion or two chopped scallions
- 1/4 cup/2 oz/55 g butter
- 2 cups/1 lb/450 g pre-cooked, mashed potatoes (kept warm)
- A little half-and-half or heavy cream
- 3/4 cup/1 lb/450 g pre-cooked curly kale (kept warm)
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper
- First, fry the onion with a teaspoon of the butter. Next, mash the potatoes again really well and beat in a little milk or cream until they are very light and fluffy in texture.
- Chop up the kale, then mix it with the rest of the melted butter and stir it into the potatoes. Season the potatoes, then hide the ring at the bottom of the dish. More melted butter and chopped parsley can be added to the colcannon just before serving.
- Any leftovers are traditionally fried until browned and crisp on both sides. Single girls would put the last remaining piece of Colcannon in a stocking and hide it under their pillows in order to dream of their future husbands as they slept.
This recipe comes from A Halloween How-To by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, pp. 157-158, and Bannatyne notes that the recipe was originally came from Brid Coogan. It serves 6.
- 6 potatoes
- 1 bunch curly kale
- 1/2 onion, chopped fine
- 6 Tbsp. butter
- 1/2 to 1 cup milk
- Salt and pepper
- Boil potatoes with a pinch of salt.
- In a separate pot, boil or steam a bunch of curly kale.
- Mash the potatoes and mix in butter and enough milk to make a smooth consistency (don't whip them, they'll get gluey).
- Add chopped onion, mix.
- Chop the cooked kale as finely as you can and mix it into the potatoes.
- Add plenty of salt and pepper.
- Scoop the colcannon, hot, onto each plate.
- Wrap a quarter in foil and hide it in each serving as a Halloween treat for kids.
- Variation: use white cabbage instead of kale, and green onions instead of white. Boil the onions in 1/2 cup of milk until soft, then add them to the mashed potatoes. Serve with lots butter.
Pan de Muertos
Pan de Muertos means Bread of the Dead in Spanish. This sweet bread bread is shaped into the form of skulls and bones and is traditional in Mexico and everywhere that Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated. This particular recipe is from Sheena Morgan's The Real Halloween, pp. 102-103. (I reproduced the basic recipe here, although she had suggestions for variations which I didn't copy.)
For the dough:
- 1/2 cup/4 oz/115 g butter, melted
- 2/3 cup/5 fl oz/150 ml milk
- 2/3 cup/5 fl oz/150 ml water
- 3 1/2-5 cups/1 1/2-2 lb/450-675 g all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup/4 oz/115 g sugar
- 1 tsp salt, 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1 Tbsp powdered anise
- 4 eggs, beaten
For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup/4 oz/115 g sugar
- 2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
- 2 Tbsp grated orange zest
- Warm the liquid ingredients until they are tepid. Place one third of the flour in a large mixing bowl and add the sugar, salt, yeast, and anise. Pour on the warm liquid and beat until well mixed. Add the beaten eggs and mis again. Add the rest of the flour in small batches until it is all absorbed and makes a soft dough. The dough should be slightly sticky rather than too dry. Knead the dough on a floured counter until it springs back when you prod it; this usually takes 5-10 minutes.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with parchment or plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about 1 hour in a warm spot. Punch the dough down gently. Form the dough into skull and bone shapes and leave it to rise again. Bake in a preheated oven, 350 degrees F (180 degrees C), for about 40 minutes. Remove from teh oven and set aside while you make the glaze.
- Put the ingredients for the glaze in a pan and warm over a gentle heat until the sugar has melted. Then bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and, using a pastry brush, carefully paint the glaze onto the bread to coat.
Pan de los Muertos (Mexican Bread of the Dead)
This is another variation on the Dia de Los Muertos treat. The recipe comes from A Halloween How-To by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, pp. 155-156.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 10 drops anise extract
- 1 Tbsp. flour
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp. melted butter
- Tube of icing
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet.
- Mix all bread ingredients until smooth.
- Mold dough into a round shape (skull), or into smaller round shapes for animals, faces, or angels. Place dough on cookie sheet.
- Mix topping ingredients together: flour, cinnamon, and melted butter.
- Brush topping on dough.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool.
- Draw skull shapes with tube icing or decorate with eyes, noses, etc.
This is a popular treat for Dia de los Muertos. The recipe comes from A Halloween How-To by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, p. 171. Bannatyne notes that she found it difficult to find the meringue powder at the grocery stores in her area. Mexican bakeries or stores that carry Mexican foods will probably have it, but for those who aren't able to find it where they buy groceries, it is also available through the Internet. The same is true for the skull-shaped molds. Also, keep in mind that it's not a good idea to try making these candies when it's rainy or humid because they don't dry properly and will stick in the molds. This recipe will make about 20 medium-sized skulls.
- Skull molds
- 1/4 cup meringue powder (this is what makes the sugar hard -- it's a combination of egg whites, starch, and other miscellaneous edible ingredients)
- 5 lb. bag of granulated sugar
- 10 tsp. water
- Large bowl
- Small squares of cardboard to set skulls on to dry
- Mix water, meringue powder, and sugar until sugar is moistened. It is ready when you squeeze the sugar mixture in your hand and your fingerprints remain. If it doesn't hold together, add more water. Stir the mixture frequently as you're making skulls, because the water will sink to the bottom. If the mix gets dry as you're working, spritz with water.
- Pack sugar mixture firmly into mold.
- Scrape the back of the mold flat with a piece of cardboard or a ruler.
- Invert the mold onto a stiff piece of cardboard and lift it off carefully (if the sugar shape doesn't come out of the mold easily, it's too wet -- remix and try again with more sugar).
- Air dry skull on cardboard for eight hours.
- Decorate dry skull with tube icing (or the rock-hard icing you use for gingerbread houses) and/or beads, colorful foil, paper, feathers, or anything bright you can think of. Glue decorations to skull with icing.
This recipes comes from Ghosts, Witches, and Things Like That by Roderick Hunt, p. 30. The book was printed in England, which is why it uses terms like "knob of butter." In the book, it ends with a warning for children to be careful and get adult help if they decide to make any. The toffee is very sticky, and if it gets on your skin while hot, it can burn badly. It's not a difficult recipe, but some caution is needed.
- 4-6 small soft eating apples
- 8 oz (225 g) loaf sugar
- 1/2 lemon
- 4 Tbsp water
- Knob of butter
- Wooden skewers or peeled sticks
- Wash and dry the apples. Fix them on the skewers or sticks.
- Butter the platter or baking tray.
- Put the sugar, a squeeze of lemon and 4 Tbsp of water into the pan and plae on a low heat, stirring until dissolved.
- Now, boil fast until golden brown. Don't take your eyes off the mixture for a second while doing this.
- When you judge the mixture to be brown enough, take the pan from the heat. Work quickly. Turn the apples into the sugar mixture, turning to make sure each is completely covered. Be careful not to get any of the hot toffee on your fingers.
- Leave the toffee apples to harden on the buttered platter.
Baked Apple Dumplings
This recipe comes from A Halloween How-To by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, p. 164, and Bannatyne notes that the recipe was originally from The Good Wife's Cook Book, 1911. It makes four dumplings.
- 4 cups flour
- 3 Tbsp. shortening
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in hot water
- 2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 4 apples
- Butter to grease pan
- 3 egg whites, beaten
- Sift flour with tartar and chop in shortening.
- Add baking soda and mix together.
- Add milk and mix into a paste.
- Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into 8X8 inch squares.
- Put one apple, pared and cored, in the center of each square. Bring the corners of the square to meet and pinch them together.
- Bake in a buttered pan, pinched side down. Bake 1 1/4 hours, until pastry is brown. Remove from oven.
- Brush with beaten egg whites and bake 2-3 minutes more.
- Serve hot, with vanilla ice cream.
Spicy Pumpkin Bread
This recipe comes from A Halloween How-To by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, pp. 153-154, and Bannatyne notes that the recipe was originally from the Isaiah Hall B&B Inn in Dennis, Massachusetts.
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 cups flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cloves
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup raisins
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.
- Cream together brown sugar and shortening.
- Beat in eggs.
- Add canned pumpkin and milk; mix well.
- In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cloves.
- Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix.
- Stir in nuts and raisins.
- Place batter into prepared pan, and bake for 55 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Cool ten minutes, remove from pan, and cool on rack. May be frozen.
Sweet Pumpkin Seeds
This recipe comes from A Halloween How-To by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, pp. 149-150.
- 1-2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 Tbsp. melted butter
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. allspice
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- In a small bowl, toss raw seeds with melted butter, brown sugar, and spices.
- Spread them out on a baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Rock & Roll Chef's Pumpkin Seeds
This recipe comes from A Halloween How-To by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, p. 150.
- 1-2 cups pumpkin seeds
- 2-3 tsp. vegetable oil
- Salt (or soy sauce) to taste
- In a bowl, add cooking oil to coat seeds. If using soy sauce, add.
- Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes or until brown. Cool. Add salt, if using.