Soul Cakes for Halloween

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Spooked up soul cakes for Halloween

Halloween is lurking creepily around the corner. And whose fault is that? The Irish! The jolly green giant of a country that gave us leprechauns, U2 and whiskey. Not to mention Guinness, a plethora of uses for the potato, herds of dead-armed dancers and soul cakes.

What I hadn’t realised until recently is that one of the Emerald Isle’s less impressive exports, who I happily divorced some time ago, wasn’t the only frightening thing the Irish sent this way! They’re also responsible for Halloween. The festival had its roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, a celebration that marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. The Celts believed that as the sun went down on October 31st, All Saints Eve, the door to the underworld opened allowing spirits, both naughty and nice, to pass.

All the goblins and ghouls that were normally trapped in purgatory were thought to come a-knockin’ on this one supernatural night of the year. Now, given the Ghostbusters weren’t about until the mid-1980’s, folk had to resort to DIY spirit exterminating. They would don costumes and masks to confuse and frighten off the harmful spectres. Then, after all that exhausting scaring, they’d crack open a bottle or two of the other type of spirits to celebrate the good ones.

The pagan ceremony was later replaced with All Hallows – a mass for Christian Saints. Around the 8th century All Hallows Eve became a night for pranks and the custom of ‘souling. Peasants would visit houses, much as kids do now, but instead of trawling for sweet treats they would sing, pray and collect soul cakes – small round biscuits rocking a hot cross bun aroma – that when eaten, represented a soul being freed from purgatory.

White chocolate ghosts releasing themselves from soul cakes for Halloween

When Irish immigrants brought their version of Halloween to North America, most of these medieval customs were already long forgotten and, despite Halloween being firmly ensconced as an American institution by the end of the 18th century, the tradition of dressing in silly costumes and taking candy from strangers didn’t really begin to take off until around the 1930s.

In Australia, we’re late bloomers to Halloween’s creepy carousing. I have zero recollection of Halloween during my childhood and, given his British heritage, Mr Eats World instead celebrated Guy Fawkes Day, which happened around the same time of year and has something to do with some 15th century pyro. But over the last decade or two there’s been a spooky shift and it’s become quite the big deal to little folk … and some big folk too.

Including me. My own inner Morticia was unable to resist and the Eats Worlds have been going large for Halloween since the kids could say boo! But tick or treating in our neck of the woods is a little difficult, so instead we conjure up creations like monkey brains (dumplings), creepy crawly cookies and monster burgers to party at a spooked up Casa Eats World.

Halloween soul cakes

While visiting spirits seem to be just as happy with a couple of fun-size Mars Bars these days, for cultural and historical accuracy, this year we’ve decided to add traditional soul cakes to our Halloween table… only we’ve added edible souls.


14 Comments on Soul Cakes for Halloween

  1. Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me
    October 29, 2015 at 3:41 pm (9 years ago)

    I should get into the spooky baking, although anytime I cook it’s scary!!! We’re fans here, and yes it’s thank goodness for the Celts, feeding my chocolate addiction since forever xxxx

      November 4, 2015 at 10:54 am (9 years ago)

      They’re good people those Celts.

  2. Jody at Six Little Hearts
    October 30, 2015 at 7:38 am (9 years ago)

    LOL! Those ex-hubby jokes!
    These are adorable and now I am feeling stressed out…(hiding your post from the kids, lest they develop ‘expectations.’)

      November 4, 2015 at 10:55 am (9 years ago)

      Hehe. The pressure is always on at Casa Eats World becuase my two have already developed expectations. Silly me 😉

  3. Christine
    October 30, 2015 at 7:07 pm (9 years ago)

    These look amazing!! I can’t believe you made them. They put what I’m doing tomorrow to shame 😉

      November 4, 2015 at 10:57 am (9 years ago)

      The cookies are a cinch Christine and the ghosties were pretty easy – just a smear of white chocolate x

  4. Melissa {Suger}
    October 30, 2015 at 8:00 pm (9 years ago)

    OMG, I loved this. The recipe is great, but the lead in was my favourite part! Thanks for sharing. I’m off now to whip up something awesome to eat my way through at our impromptu Halloween party tomorrow night!

      November 4, 2015 at 10:57 am (9 years ago)

      Thanks Melissa. Hope your Halloween was awesome!

  5. Lauren @ Create Bake Make
    October 31, 2015 at 8:10 am (9 years ago)

    I think the goodies you are enjoying at home for Halloween sure beat any lollies you would get while out trick or treating! Thanks for linking up with us this week, I hope you have a great time tonight 🙂

      November 4, 2015 at 10:57 am (9 years ago)

      Thanks Lauren. We had a ball!

  6. My Brown Paper Packages
    November 1, 2015 at 8:31 am (9 years ago)

    These look great. It was our first year starting to get involved, I made some halloween cupcakes and spiders and witches wands for their dinner.

      November 4, 2015 at 10:58 am (9 years ago)

      It’s so much fun. I’m totally hooked!


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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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