Short answer: The soul cake is the culinary antecedent to the candy treats we give out on Halloween night. Of course, this holiday, which celebrates ghosts and goblins and other scary things, makes little logical sense. I mean, really—if some denizen of the underworld were to knock on your door on a dark October night, would you chase it away by throwing candy at it?
In 1891, a minister in Cheshire, England, wrote down a traditional song sung by Medieval soulers, learned from a little girl at the local school.
Although my little soul cakes look somewhat like the historical versions, I made mine lighter, moister, and sweeter treats to eat. Instead of dry, rather mealy Medieval biscuits (or yeast buns that require rising time), my soul cakes are a cross between quick-and-easy pumpkin muffins and whoopie pies with brown sugar and plenty of fall spices for flavor. The pumpkin provides good moistness; and the combination of pumpkin and canola oil (instead of butter) creates soul cakes that are a tad healthier for you than traditional versions, while still being quite tasty for breakfast or coffee break snacks.
and may God bless you!
To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, CLICK HERE.
Servings: about 24 Little Cakes
2 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 cup whole milk (use whole for added fat, better flavor and texture)
1 (15-ounce) can of pureed pumpkin (about 2 cups)
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon table salt (or 1 teaspoon coarse salt)
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup raisins and/or craisins (sweetened dried cranberries).
If you're not a fan of raisins or craisins, try chocolate chips.
NOTE: I make these little cakes in a rustic way (via a simple "drop and swirl" method on a baking sheet, more on how to do this below). If you would like a more finished looking Soul Cake for company or a bake sale, simply use a whoopie pie pan like the one shown here. Mound the dough into the pan tins, and the little cakes will spread and rise more evenly for you.
(1) One bowl mixing method: First preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Place eggs in bowl and whisk. Add oil, milk, canned pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, spices, and salt. Whisk until blended. Finally, add the flour and baking powder. Stir well to blend the flour into a smooth batter. (You can use an electric mixer, if you like, but do not over mix.)
(2) Prep pan and drop: For best results, line baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat the paper with non-stick cooking spray. For each cake, fill the quarter cup (1/4) container of your measure cup set and mound it onto the prepared baking sheet. (Or use a ¼-cup size cookie scoop.) Leave room between for spreading.
(3) Swirl and decorate: Use the back of a tablespoon to swirl the mound of batter into a relatively even circle that is a little bit flatter than the mound but not too flat. (See my photos as a guide.) Using raisins and craisins (or chocolate chips), create a cross on the cake to represent the prayers that beggars and the children of the poor once offered in exchange for the treat.
(4) Bake: Oven should be well pre-heated to 400° F. Bake about 10 – 15 minutes (depending on oven and size of your cake). Serve warm with butter or allow to cool and dust with powdered sugar if you like.
Storage notes: Once cool, store your Pumpkin Soul Cakes in the refrigerator after wrapping each separately in plastic or wax paper. They should keep several days that way and can be reheated in about 10 to 15 seconds in the microwave.
Here's a poll for you...
To learn about
this fun, fast-paced,
Holiday Buzz is a culinary
mystery that includes
many delicious holiday
and cookie recipes!
For a free
Recipe Guide to Holiday Buzz