Spirit Message of the Day – A Little Samhain Soul Cooking

SOUL CAKES AND OTHER SAMHAIN RECEIPES
These are part of the traditional English Hallowe’en festivities. Traditionally these were flat round cakes flavoured with saffron, mixed spices and currants. Indeed, during the 19th and early 20th centuries children would go ‘souling’ on All Souls’ Day (November 2nd) where they would request alms or soul cakes with the following song:

“A soul, a soul, a soul cake.
Please god missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us merry.
Up with your kettles and down with your pans
Give us an answer and we’ll be gone
Little Jack, Jack sat on his gate
Crying for butter to butter his cake
One for St Peter, two for St Paul,
Three for the man who made us all.”

Soul Cakes were also part of All Saints’ Eve superstitions. It was believed that the spirits of the departed would return to their homes on this night. As a result candles were lit to guide their way and food and drink (including soul cakes) were put out for them. 

Ingredients
150g butter
150g caster sugar
560g plain flour, sifted
3 egg yolks
generous pinch of saffron
1 tbsp mixed spice
1 tsp allspice
3 tbsp currants
2 tsp milk

Method: Crush the saffron in a pestle and mortar, add the milk and grind to combine. Sift together the flour and remaining spices into a bowl. In the meantime, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat the egg yolks and add to the creamed mixture a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sifted flour and spice mix and stir in the currants. Add the milk and saffron mixture and enough additional milk to form a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and shape into flat cakes about 5 or 6cm in diameter. Transfer to a well-buttered baking tray and place in an oven pre-heated to 180°C and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly golden. Allow to cool on the tray for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Excerpt from Ye Olde Witches Brew Magazine

How To Make a Soul Cake for Samhain
Soul cakes were traditionally baked as a gift for the spirits of the dead. In many European countries, the idea of “Souling” became an acceptable alternative for Christians. The cakes took many different names and shapes — in some areas, they were simple shortbread, and in others they were baked as fruit-filled tarts. Still other regions made them of rice flour. Generally, a soul cake was made with whatever grain the community had available. You can make your own with one of these four simple recipes.

Pie Crust Soul Cakes

  • A refrigerated roll-out pie crust
  • 2 Tbs. melted butter
  • 1 C mixed dried fruit
  • 2 Tbs honey

Roll out the pie crust and cut it into circles. Use the circles to line a tin of muffin cups. Mix the butter, fruit and honey together. Scoop the fruit mixture into the pastry shells, and then bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Allow to cool for about ten minutes before eating.

 Quickie Shortbread Soul Cakes

  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 4 Tbs sugar
  • 1 1/2 C flour

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 (baking stones are really nice for this) 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.

Buttery Soul Cakes

  • Two sticks butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 C flour, sifted
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg & saffron
  • 1 tsp each cinnamon & allspice
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp malt vinegar
  • Powdered sugar

Cut the butter into the flour with a large fork. Mix in the sugar, nutmeg, saffron, cinammon and allspice. Lightly beat eggs, and add to flour mixture. Add malt vinegar. Mix until you have a stiff dough. Knead for a while, then roll out until 1/4″ thick. Use a floured glass to cut out 3″ circles. Place on greased baking sheet and bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while the cakes are still warm.

Irish Cakes

  • 4 C flour
  • 1 pkt active dry yeast
  • 1 C milk
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 tsp each cinnamon & salt
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1/2 C lemon zest
  • 1 1/4 C golden raisins

Cream yeast with 1 tsp sugar & 1 tsp milk, let it get frothy. Blend flour, spices, & salt together, then cut in butter. Add the rest of the sugar to the flour mix and blend. Add milk & beaten egg onto the yeast mixture; combine with flour mixture. Beat until stiff. Fold in raisins and zest, cover with a damp cloth and let rise. Divide in two, place each half in greased 7″ round pan. Cover, let rise again for 30 minutes. Bake 1 hour at 400 degrees.

Samhain Cooking: Mix Up Some Magic at Halloween
Join the folks at About.com’s FoodChannel for some absolutely spectacular ideas that will jazz up any feast, whether you’re having a traditional Halloween party, or a more spiritual Samhain celebration. Includes recipes for drinks and beverages, snacks, and harvest-themed dishes.

SUGAR SKULLS
In Mexico, the Day of the Dead is celebrated around the same time that Pagans observe Samhain. One tradition that’s always popular is to make sugar skulls. Here’s how to make your own and decorate them for your Samhain celebration.

Each year in Mexico, and in many Hispanic communities around the United States, people celebrate the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) between October 31 and November 2. While it may sound a bit macabre, it’s actually a joyful celebration, honoring the memories of those who have died in the past year. Today’s Day of the Dead festivals are a blend of old Aztec tradition merged with modern Catholic beliefs. One of the most popular customs is that of sugar skulls, which are simple to make, and lots of fun to decorate! Make a batch of your own, and include them in your Samhain feast.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp meringue powder
  • 1 tsp water
  • Food coloring in your choice of colors
  • Icing

Preparation
Blend the sugar, meringue powder, and water together, and then press into skull-shaped molds. You can get the molds at candy stores, or if you have a Hispanic marketa near you, that’s an even better resource. Once the molds are filled, allow to dry for 24 hours or more.

Pop the skulls out of the molds, and put a thin layer of white icing over the skulls. Use the food coloring to decorate with bright colors — for some great ideas of designs and patterns, check out the photo gallery at About Mexican Food: Sugar Skulls. The above recipe makes about a dozen small sugar skulls, but you can adjust it accordingly to make more, or to make larger skulls.

Celebrating the Day of the Dead
Dio de los Muertos is held every year in Mexico. Each year in Mexico, and in many Hispanic communities around the United States, people celebrate the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) between October 31 and November 2. While it may sound a bit macabre, it’s actually a joyful celebration, honoring the memories of those who have died in the past year. Today’s Day of the Dead festivals are a blend of old Aztec tradition merged with modern Catholic beliefs.

Author Sheena Morgan says in The Real Halloween that the original, pre-Christian celebration took place in late August, and coincided with the migration of Monarch butterflies. The Aztecs believed that the Monarchs were the souls of the dead, returning to their homes. After the Spanish conquest of Mexico, celebrations were moved to early November, and blended indigenous customs with observance of Christian holy days.

Today, people of Mexican descent celebrate the Day of the Dead with picnics, elaborate altars, parades, and visits to cemeteries. Altars include colored tissue ribbons, flowers, photos of the dead, and candles. It’s also popular to include food offerings with a theme of death – sugar skulls and coffins are a common item, as are small figures made of bread.

Sonja Rosales is a Mexican-American living in South Carolina. She says that for her family and many others, this is not a day of mourning, but a day of happiness. “It’s a chance for us to remember the dead with love. We start by honoring the angelitos, the children who are deceased, and then we remember the older people. We go to the graveyard and have a picnic. My husband brings a guitar and we sing songs. My children laugh and play among the gravestones. I know that our ancestors are there, and they are happy that we remember them.”

If you’d like to celebrate the Day of the Dead in your own family, you can either incorporate it into your Samhain festivities, or hold it as a separate event. Here are some ways you can observe the Day of the Dead, no matter what your cultural background may be.

  • Build an ancestor shrine in your home, so that everyone in your family can remember the dead.
  • Make sugar skulls, or calaveras, and coffins.
  • If your loved ones are buried nearby, visit their graves. Clean up the headstone if it’s looking shoddy, and leave a small gift or token of your visit.
  • Prepare a special dinner for your family, and include a place setting for those who have died. You can either make it formal and serious, like the Dumb Supper, or joyous and fun – it’s up to you. Decorate the dinner table with lots of candles and flowers.
  • Hold a ritual to honor your deceased ancestors. Make offerings if appropriate.
  • Adorn your home with skulls, skeletons, and other symbols of death.

Be sure to read more about the Day of the Dead from Suzanne Barbezat, our About.com Guide to Mexico Travel.

Creamsicle Fudge – Creamy Orange Marbled Fudge
This is one of my favorite recipes, and my kids demand I make it each year at Halloween. Use white chocolate, marshmellow fluff, and sugar to create a rich, creamy orange fudge that tastes like Creamsicles!

Use white chocolate, marshmellow fluff, and sugar to create a rich, creamy orange fudge that tastes like Creamsicles — remember those tasty popsicles you ate as a kid? This recipe will be a big hit with your Samhain party guests. For a really magical presentation, make a batch of Yule Peppermint Fudge at the same time, cut both batches into squares, and lay them on a plate in an orange-and-black checkerboard pattern.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons plus 3/4 cup butter, divided
  • 2 1/2 C. sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 12-oz package white chocolate chips
  • 1 7-oz jar marshmellow fluff
  • 1 Tbs. orange extract
  • Orange food coloring (or red and yellow food coloring, if orange isn’t available)

Preparation
Using 1 1/2 tsp of the butter, grease a 13×9″ pan and set aside. In a saucepan, combine the remaining butter, cream and sugar. Cook on low heat until the sugar has dissolved completely, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil, and then cook for another three minutes. Remove saucepan from the burner, and stir in the white chocolate chips and marshmellow fluff. Blend until smooth. Scoop out about a cup of the mix and set aside.

Add the orange extract and a couple of drops of orange food coloring to the mixture still in the pot, and stir until blended. If you use gel food coloring, you can typically get it in orange. If you use just regular liquid coloring, you’ll probably need to blend red and yellow. About 10 drops of yellow and five drops of red should do it (or any other 2:1 ratio), but you can adjust that depending on what shade of orange you like.

Scoop orange mixture into your prepared pan. Take the cup of remaining white mixture and drop small globs over the top of the orange, using a teaspoon. Use a knife to swirl the white into the orange, giving it a marbled appearance. Don’t blend it all the way; you still want to be able to see streaks of white. Cover and refrigerate until firm, and then cut into squares. This makes about 2 1/2 pounds of fudge.

Excerpts taken from Patti Wigington, your Guide to Paganism / Wiccan

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