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Soul Cakes for Allhallowtide

Soul Cakes are a traditional Christian baked good, historically made for Allhallowtide. Their primary purpose was as an offering or charity in medieval times.

The tradition of making soul cakes was tied to the medieval Christian practice of "souling" — a custom where children, the poor, and others went door to door offering prayers in exchange for food or money. Souling, involved groups visiting local farms and homes, often singing traditional songs requesting apples, ale, and soul cakes. These "Souler's songs" were typically performed in a lamenting tone.

Soul cakes, also called soulmass cakes, were small, round cakes resembling shortbread biscuits in appearance and texture, infused with sweet spices. Commonly known simply as "souls," these cakes are handed out to "soulers" — typically children and the poor — who visit houses during Allhallowtide, singing and praying for the souls of those who give the cakes. The practice of "souling" and the distribution of soul cakes were a precursor to modern trick-or-treating.

Celebrate Allhallowtide by making soul cakes. They are so easy to make and so good! It’s a great way to learn about the real meaning of Halloween and our beautiful Christian faith. It’s also a great way to talk about mortality, our hope in Christ, and giving to the poor. You could even give them out as an act of love and service!

Soul Cakes

¾ cup butter, room temperature

1 cup white granulated sugar

3 egg yolks medium size

3 ¾ cups flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.

½ cup raisins

6-7 Tablespoons milk

2 Tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the egg yolks and mix again. Sift the flour and spices into the butter/sugar mixture. Gradually add the milk, combining with a spatula until the dough comes together. Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Knead the dough with your hands until well combined. Add half the raisins, and knead them in the dough. Add the rest of the raisins while kneading the dough. Roll the dough with a rolling pin about 1/4 inch thick. Cut the cakes into round shapes using a round cookie cutter. Transfer the cakes to a baking tray, layered with parchment paper. Leave space between the cakes. Cut a cross on each cake. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden. Dust the cakes with powdered sugar.

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