All Hallows Eve is quickly approaching. It’s supposed to be a time of remembering the dead but I’ve never seen anyone actually do that. We dress up in costumes and beg candy from our neighbors but no one actually sits down to recall dearly departed Grandma. No, at this time of year we prefer to pretend that the dead are unknown to us and have only come back to frighten our pounding hearts. We go to haunted houses where maliciously murdered dead ones walk towards us with evil in their eyes.
Spiritual beliefs in this country are extremely random which makes this holiday a bit confusing. First you have to believe that a soul can be stuck in purgatory before you can properly celebrate. Unless you believe that Uncle Fred is hanging out in that mysterious place between heaven and hell then singing him into heaven seems quite silly.
I think we should bring back the practice of “Souling”; the custom of baking and sharing “Soul Cakes”. How can this be bad? We get to eat cake and the tormented soul is released. Somehow Americans have turned this into trick-or-treating which is not nearly as much fun if you ask me. Besides, have you priced candy lately?
The mystery of the afterlife has many scholars though I’ve never met anyone that has actually been to the other side. I know there are the few that swear they saw God in the middle of open heart surgery but I find this hard to believe since they are still here. We do have the Bible for reference but no two denominations can interpret it the same way so it seems it is still a guessing game. (Insert lecture about being guided by the spirit here.) I do have some very definite beliefs of my own but I do not have tangible evidence of their existence.
For this All Hallows Eve I think I’ll have cake and wine just in case. I wouldn’t want to disappoint any lingering spirits. It’s for the good of the dead you know.
Traditional Soul Cake
8oz butter or dripping;
1lb black treacle;
12oz fine oatmeal;
12oz 85% extraction flour;
8oz soft dark brown sugar;
1-2 tsp ground ginger;
1 tsp salt;
1 tsp cream of tartar;
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda;
4 fl oz milk
Set the oven to 325 degrees F / 160 degrees C / Gas Mark 3. Grease two 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inch Yorkshire pudding tins or one larger roasting tin. Warm the fat and treacle in a pot in the oven to melt them. Mix all the dry ingredients except the bicarbonate of soda in a bowl. Mix the bicarbonate into the milk to dissolve it.
Pour the melted fat mixture into the dry goods, and add the bicarbonate and milk. Stir thoroughly, turn into the tin(s) and level the top. Bake in the smaller tins for 1 1/4 hours, in the larger one for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Cool in the tin(s). Keep, well wrapped, in a cool place for at least 2 weeks before cutting. Serve cut into squares or bars.