As a child, I adored my birthdays. I’ve been told it is believed that witches are born the night before Halloween. My mother didn’t particularly love that, but I always did. I used to say that Halloween felt like day two of my own birthday festivities. Would you believe that two days later we got to celebrate two additional family birthdays each year? Somehow we missed the mark on emphasizing the significance of All Saints Day and All Souls Day, but I think on my dear loved one for their special birthday and it feels especially poignant and meaningful now.
We don’t put a full blown feast together since there is so much to do between all events packed into the end of October and beginning of November, but I’ve begun savoring some of the extra special things by including ancient traditions whenever I can find them.
Halloween, or Samhain, began as a pagan holiday to honor the dead and was considered a period when the dead could reunite with the living. (Similar to Dia de los Muertos, no?) People would often go from door to door singing songs and offering prayers for departed loved ones in exchange for little cakes. You can see how this eventually evolved into passing out sweets today.
I’ve chosen spelt flour in my recipe to make them feel slightly more authentic than modern wheat flour could do. The nuttiness from spelt is a welcome touch. I’ve omitted the cross decorations on top, because it doesn’t feel like it would have been very authentic. Instead, I’ve soaked my currants and included them inside the dough for extra moisture. Rather than rolling and cutting like dry biscuit dough, I’ve kept them moist and scooped them. (The spelt needs a slightly sticky consistency, as it is a thirsty grain.) For added beauty, I’ve sprinkled them in coarse sanding sugar before baking to give them a glistening glow. Even if you don’t make them for a specific feast, gathering, or holiday, I urge you to try this delicious recipe. It’s exceptional with a nice cup of tea.
However you choose to celebrate your autumn, I hope it enriches your soul and provides you peace.
Happy Autumn, my loves!
Spelt and Currant Soul Cakes
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup sugar plus extra for sprinkling on top
- 1 whole egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups spelt flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup dried currants
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Whip butter and sugar together
- Add egg and vanilla; combine until smooth.
- Add milk
- Add spelt flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix until smooth.
- Fold in dried currants.
- Spoon into quarter-cup portions onto baking tray. Lightly sprinkle tops with sugar.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottoms.
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