Cakes and ale

We're gearing up for the pwnco ceremony tomorrow. We've been told that we need to provide sustenance in the form of cakes and ale to the osses and their friends. So we have made some traditional cakes for All Hallow's Eve - soul cakes!

Here is the recipe if you want to make your own...

You will need:

2 teaspoons mixed-spice

175g butter
175g caster sugar
3 egg yolks
450g plain flour
100g currrants 

Soul cakes were eaten in the past around the time of Hallowmass or Hallowtide (the Medieval festival extended from the night of October 31st til November 2nd to incorporate Halloween or All Hallows, October 31st, All Saints Day on November 1st and All Souls Day on November 2nd).  These days were a time to remember and pray for all saints and all souls i.e., all people who had died.  People would go from house to house singing and receiving soul cakes in return.  There are various versions of the song that they would sing and the significance of this ritual.  Some say that the poor (who were given the cake) would then offer their prayers on the following day for those in that family who had died as a way of lessening their time in purgatory.  It seems like an early version of trick or treat and is still performed in some parts of the country (  The significance of various foods will play a part in our exhibition for 2016 which is on Halloween's history and customs.

Soul Songs

Soul cakes were piled high and given to guests, usually after they had sung for them.  Various old rhymes and songs include:

“A soule cake, a soule cake, Have mercy on all Christen soules for a soule-cake.”  
“God have your soul, Bones and all.”  (This is recorded in 1674).
“Peter stands at yonder gate Waiting for a Soul Cake."
Another slightly later one is:
“For we are all poor people,
Well known to you before.
So give us a cake for charity’s sake,
And our blessing we leave at the door.” 

The traditional shape is round with a cross through the centre so we made some like that but we also used our Halloween cookie cutters to make soul cakes of various designs.

Ever the greedy optimist, Tom, the Museum dog, is literally licking his lips in anticipation.  They will be eaten tomorrow as is custom. 
And now to purchase some ale...


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