Monday, 3 November 2014

A Soul! A Soul! A Soul Cake!

Soul cake with perry - not an ingredient, just a good accompaniment

As you may be aware, yesterday was All Souls' Day. As I mentioned in my Halloween post last year, it was traditional on this day for people to hand out soul cakes to 'soulers', people who went around singing and praying for the dead. So I thought this year that I would make some soul cakes myself, as a good activity following an evening requiem service at church.

My understanding is that there are many variations on soul cakes... which isn't at all surprising when you consider that the concept dates back to the medieval period, when people around the UK couldn't just look up a recipe on the internet and see what them in the next county were cooking. The thing that unites them seems to be sweet spices and dried fruit.

Here is the recipe I used, taken from the blog Lavender and Lovage:

175g butter
175g caster sugar
3 egg yolks
450g plain flour
2 teaspoons mixed spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger)
100g currants
(a little milk to mix)

Step 1:
Pre-heat oven to 180c.

Step 2: 
Cream the butter and sugar together, and then beat in the egg yolks.

Step 3:
Sift the flour and mixed spice into the mixture. 
(At this point I realised that the mixed spice I'd bought had coriander in it... Although the person who I had in mind as I baked very much liked coriander, I wasn't sure how it would go in sweet cookies. Fortunately I had whole nutmegs and ground cinnamon and ginger in my cupboard. So I grated some nutmeg, spread the measure between the three spices and the day was saved...)

Step 4:
Stir in the currants and add enough milk to make a soft dough, similar to scones. 
(I only added the tiniest dash of milk for luck, and then added up probably compensating when I floured things up as a rolled the dough out... So long story short is that milk may not even be necessary. Play it by feel.)

Step 5: 
Roll (or pat, if you're like me and don't have a rolling pin) the dough out on a floured surface. If you have a round biscuit cutter, use this. If you're like me and don't, roll into balls and then squish flat. You should get about 12. Place on a greased or/or lined baking tray and mark with a cross.

Step 6:
Bake the cakes for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack (... if you have one...)

Step 7:
Eat and/or distribute to family, friends and neighbours. Enjoy with a drink and make a toast to loved ones who have gone ahead of us.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

This is Halloween

Some photographs snapped around Westminster Abbey after work yesterday evening.

And the friendly bat that lives on my balcony door (his friend lives with my sister):

Hope everyone's having a good weekend, however (and whether) you are marking Hallowe'en, All Hallows' Day and All Souls' Day.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Curiouser and Curiouser

My brother's gorgeous girlfriend took this series of photos of my darling mother recently, looking like Alice in Wonderland or some other fairy tale...