Sunday, October 25, 2009

Countdown to Halloween - October 25th

A Soul cake is a small round cake which is traditionally made for All Souls' Day to celebrate the dead. Traditionally; people made these cakes on All Saints day and, in the evening, placed them on graves of dead relatives to ease their souls. They were also handed out to the poor and needy in exchange for prayers for recently dead relatives. In modern times, these cakes have become a part of the goodies prepared for Halloween.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground fresh if possible
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground fresh if possible
1/2 teaspoon salt
Generous pinch of saffron
1/2 cup milk
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup currants

Ingredients for the Glaze:
1 egg yolk, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the flour, the nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Mix well with a fork.

Crumble the saffron threads into a small saucepan and heat over low heat just until they become aromatic, taking care not to burn them. Add the milk and heat just until hot to the touch. The milk will have turned a bright yellow. Remove from heat.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon (or use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment). Add the egg yolks and blend in thoroughly with the back of the spoon. Add the spiced flour and combine as thoroughly as possible; the mixture will be dry and crumbly.

One tablespoon at a time, begin adding in the warm saffron milk, blending vigorously with the spoon. When you have a soft dough, stop adding milk; you probably won't need the entire half-cup.

Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead gently, with floured hands, until the dough is uniform. Roll out gently to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Using a floured 2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as you can and set on an ungreased baking sheet. You can gather and re-roll the scraps, gently. Makes around a dozen, 2 inch cakes

Decorate the soul cakes with currants and then brush liberally with the beaten egg yolk.

Bake for 15 minutes, until just golden and shiny. Serve warm. These get stale real fast, so don’t make more then you’ll eat in a day.

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