Soul Cakes and Other Samhain Recipes
Baking and cooking delicious treats and meals are an important part of any celebration of the Wheel of the Year. Each celebration has its specific treats Witches can make to honor that holiday’s tradition. In the case of Samhain, the most popular treat to bake is Soul Cakes. What are Soul Cakes, you ask? Well, we will find out together! By the end of this article, you will be so engrossed in what Soul Cakes represent, you will not be able to resist getting up and making some for your Samhain Celebration.
What are Soul Cakes?
Soul cakes are small, round cakes typically made of grain with some fruit filling. There are many stories about how Soul Cakes originated, and here are a few commonly known legends.
One legend goes back to the time of the Druids. The Druids would bake the cakes in the Samhain bonfire. While they baked, they were used as lottery tokens. If someone were to draw out a burnt soul cake, that person would be used as the sacrifice for the year. Luckily, this tradition stayed with the ancient Druids and was not passed down.
Another legend said that the Soul Cakes were left as offerings to sedate and calm any angered spirits that crossed when the veil of the spirit world thinned during Samhain. Many who left offerings for these spirits were passed over, so if people wanted to avoid unnecessary anger from a ghost, Soul Cakes needed to be baked for them and left out till the veil closed again. Then, these Soul Cakes were to be buried as eating them could cause harm due to any ghostly energies they may have absorbed.
In other legends, beggars would come around during Samhain, formerly named All Souls’ Eve, and offer prayers for departed loved ones. For each cake that was given, one soul was prayed for.
In other places, the Soul Cakes were given as treats to costumed entertainers known as mummers who brought merriment to Samhain. Today’s trick-or-treaters follow traditions from these mummers, and the Soul Cake treats have been replaced with today’s candy treats.
Then, during the 8th century, Christianity joined the lore of the Soul Cakes. For the Christian Church, the Soul Cakes were baked, consecrated, and blessed, then given to poor travelers as a warm meal.
Why Make Soul Cakes?
Traditionally, Soul Cakes are made and left as offerings on altars or graves for those who have moved on. During Samhain, the barrier between us and the spirits lifts, and the spirits can enter our world. While with us, they enjoy partaking in sweets and other meals left for them. Soul Cakes are small yet packed with flavor, a favorite for spirits to feast on without straining their energy.
Soul Cakes are also used during Samhain to represent a connection with living people. Soul Cakes can pass on positive energies so you can show that someone is in your thoughts or that you are there to help them if in need. They are fun and quick treats to whip up so you can add some festive fun to any Samhain celebration or ritual.
How to Make Soul Cakes
Making Soul Cakes is easy; the hardest part may be deciding which base to use. You can choose an easy route and utilize a pre-made pie crust. Or, you can find simple bread recipes to use as the base. Many Soul Cake recipes use shortbread, pound cake, butter cake, or spiced cakes as the bread base. You can even go the extra mile and use yeast-based bread to add an extra rise to the cakes.
Once the base of your cake has been decided, the next, and fun, thing to do is to decide what kind of filling you are going to use. Traditionally, while the Soul Cakes were made of grains, the filling was a fruit of the season, like pumpkin or berries. You can choose to go this route and fill the Soul Cakes with berries. You can also fill them with jellies if you prefer something creamier. Or, you can leave them plain and enjoy the simple taste of a Soul Cake.
Other Fun Samhain Recipes
Even though Soul Cakes is the most popular Samhain recipe, there are a lot of other recipes you can make that fall within the Samhain spirit. Here are some fun Samhain recipes you can enjoy.
Mulled Wine has ancient roots, so it is not certain where the drink originated. What can be said, though, is that the drink is delicious. It contains flavors from cinnamon, cloves, and other fall spices that have been soaking in sweet red wine alongside some citrus.
Barmbrack is a Celtic yeast bread that is sweet and filled with dry fruits and fresh citrus zest. Trinkets can be hidden in the bread; those trinkets have different meanings or predictions, depending on who gets the trinkets.
Colcannon is a traditional Irish food that uses creamy mashed potatoes, cooked greens, and onions. It is a very filling dish that complements light meats or veggie entrees wonderfully.
Soul Cakes are delectable treats that allow for a variety of treats that can fill the cakes. You do not need to follow an exact Soul Cake recipe as you can adjust it to the taste preferred by the person you are leaving them as an offering for, or for the guests that will enjoy the treats. If you are going to create a Samhain Altar or partake in Samhain celebrations for passed loved ones, you need to bake Soul Cakes for them. For the other recipes stated, you can choose to make them or not, depending on taste preferences, or simply choose to stick to Soul Cakes. Whatever combination you decide to do, so long as Soul Cakes are involved, you should have a glorious Samhain celebration.