Friday, October 25, 2019

Samhain and Soul Cakes

[If this post appears a bit late, I apologize. My Irish kitchen is minuscule, there's little counter space (but an amazing oven!), and there have been assorted wireless glitches over the past week. Plus most of my cooking tools are sitting on the pier in Cork city.]

Halloween cupcakes from Field's
This has got to be the simplest cookie recipe in existence. It has all of three ingredients and takes a spoon and a sifter to make, and only one cookie sheet.


1 stick (1/4 pound) of salted butter, softened
4 Tblsp granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups flour

And that's all!

For a little background: Samhain, which we call Halloween, is a Gaelic festival that marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It lies halfway between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, and is widely celebrated in Ireland. Yes, our Halloween is what's left of a pagan festival that has survived into the present.

Some of the modern descriptions are a bit odd. It has been said that the idea of giving away cakes goes back to the Druids, and they were used as part of a lottery around a bonfire. If you happened to pick a burnt cake, you got to be the human sacrifice for the year. Or you could give cakes to any angry ghosts who happened to be wandering around on the day. 


Cream together the butter and sugar. Use a flour sifter to add the flour to the bowl, and mix until it's smooth. 

Divide the dough into two parts, and shape each half into a flat circle about half an inch thick. 

Put them on an ungreased baking sheet and poke lines with the tines of a fork, making eight separate wedges in each cake. 

Bake for 25 minutes or until light brown at 350 degrees.

These may look a little rough, but they didn't have electric mixers among the Druids, and my version is entirely hand made.

This is the stone that my handyman gave me. It might come from
an ancient circle. It might have been aligned with the sunrise
on Samhain. Who knows?

Alas, there are no young children in my neighborhood,
so I guess I'll miss Trick-or-Treating this year.


  1. Wow. The essence of simplicity.
    Sounds like a delicious cousin to shortbread.

  2. It does sound like shortbread!