This recipe for Soul Cakes – Soulmass Cakes – Biscuits is incredibly easy to prepare. Soul Cakes, or Soulmass Cakes, are more akin to biscuits or cookies than cakes. They represent a traditional biscuit with roots dating back to Medieval times. According to historical accounts, they remained popular in the UK until the 1930s. In some parts of the UK, they still enjoy popularity, albeit under different names.
Historically, it appears that these biscuits were distributed to the poor and to children on All Souls Day. All Souls Day falls on the 2nd of November, the day following All Saints Day or All Hallows Day. Consequently, they are ideal treats for Halloween. The biscuits are spiced and contain dried fruit, such as currants or raisins. They are straightforward to prepare and require minimal time. The biscuit dough consists of flour, sugar, mixed spice, butter, egg yolks, milk, salt, and raisins.
Mixed spice is a common ingredient in the UK, readily available in stores. It’s a blend of spices similar to pumpkin spice or speculaas spice, so those can be used as alternatives.
The process is simple too. Begin by creaming together the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks and whisk them in. Then stir in the flour, mixed spice, salt, and raisins until the mixture clumps together. Add enough of the milk to allow the dough to form easily. Briefly chill the dough, then roll it out and cut out the biscuits. The size is a matter of preference. For mine I cut out 3 inch/ 7.5cm rounds. You can imprint a simple cross decoration on the top. Bake the biscuits for approximately 12 to 15 minutes at 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F.
They will brown slightly during baking. Longer baking will give a crunchier biscuit. Allow them to cool before serving or storing.
My Soul Cakes
15 minutes was enough time for my biscuits to bake well. Once cool I sampled one which had a crisp texture on the outside. The inside was slightly soft. The mixed spice gave a lovely subtle flavour in the background. Biting into a raisin gave a fruity taste and a different texture too. These biscuits are most enjoyable.
Another easy biscuit/cookie recipe is Golden Crunch Biscuits – Cookies.
Soul Cakes – Soulmass Cakes – BiscuitsCourse: Biscuits, CookiesCuisine: BritishDifficulty: Easy
420g(2 3/4 cups+2 tsp, based on scooping packed flour into a 250ml cup) plain flour
175g(3/4 cup + 1/2 tbsp) softened unsalted butter
175g(3/4 cup + tbsp) caster sugar
3 medium egg yolks(large in USA)
3g(1 1/2 tsp) mixed spice
1.5g(1/4 tsp) salt
30ml(2 tbsp) milk, you may not need it all
50g(6 tbsp) raisins(or other dried fruit)
- Place the butter and sugar into a large bowl and cream them together until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg yolks and whisk them in until thoroughly combined.
- Mix the mixed spice and salt into the flour.
- Pour that mixture onto the creamed mixture and add the raisins.
- Stir the mixture until it begins to clump together, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
- Add enough milk to form a dough when stirred in.
- Squeeze the dough into a large ball and flatten it to a disc and wrap in plastic wrap.
- Chill the dough for 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F and line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- Lightly flour the work surface and roll out the dough to a thickness of 5mm(3/16 inch). I divided my dough in half just for ease.
- Use a cookie cut to cut out 3in(7.5cm) discs. A scallop-edged cutter is better if you have one.
- Make indentations of the surface of each disc in the form of a cross.
- Place the discs on the baking trays, leaving a gap between each.
- Bake the biscuits for 12 to 15 minutes, until they just start to brown lightly. The longer you bake the crunchier will be the biscuits.
- Allow the biscuits to cool on the tray for 3 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.