Soul Cakes recipe for Samhain (2024)

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Enjoy these Soul Cakes as a more traditional Samhain celebration food! You’ll love the flavor and how they’re the perfect biscuit-like foods to go with cider, ale, tea, coffee or even wine. Save the recipe today!

Soul Cakes recipe for Samhain (1)

As I’ve spent some time learning about the origins of Halloween, I came across Soul Cakes. Halloween was originally celebrated as Samhain, an ancient Celtic end of harvest season commemoration and entrance to the darker half of the year. Many aspects of Halloween that we see today have their roots in Samhain – even trick-or-treating.

What is the history behind Soul Cakes?

Soul Cakes are biscuit-like cakes that were once given out to children and poor people who went “souling” in Europe. They would visit the wealthier families on Halloween and offer to pray for their souls or to keep the malevolent spirits away in exchange for the baked goods. The practice dates back to the Medieval period and continued until the 1930’s in some parts of the country.

In some countries the giving of soul cakes is still seen today and generally associated with Halloween, or All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 1 & 2), which were moved closer to Halloween in an effort to combine holidays as the Christian religion took root.

In Portugal, souling is known asPão-por-Deus and coincides with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. The Philippines has a similar practice called Pangangaluwa, which happens on Halloween. In the United States some church celebrate Allhallowtide and invite people in to pray while handing our sweet treats.

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But what are Soul Cakes?

The cakes themselves are small, round shortbread or biscuit-like cakes that were sweetened with fruit and flavored with spices. They were marked on top with an X or a cross to signify that these were cakes meant for the poor. Sometimes the tops are also decorated with dried fruit too.

Soul Cakes are similar in texture to Irish Soda Bread, which is actually one of my most popular recipes on this blog. You can find it {HERE}. It always seems to get more views in October and after learning about Samhain, I understand why.

And while I know that these Soul Cakes don’t look like the most appetizing biscuit/cakes you’ve ever seen, they are so good! I’ve been so excited to share this recipe with you because I actually cannot stop eating these. Frankly, they’re ruining the low-carb thing I try to do and I’m not mad about it. Soul Cakes are going to be a tradition in our home each October from here on out.

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What to serve with these cakes

I made a whole Samhain fest when I set up my Samhain Halloween table. Within that there’s some beautiful recipes that will compliment Soul Cakes for your celebration. Try some of the following:

  • Moon Spell Cookies {HERE}
  • Roasted Beet Soup {Soon!}
  • Spiced Cherry Apple Cider {HERE}
  • Samhain or Black Magic Sangria {Soon!}
  • Honey Roasted Pork with root vegetables {Soon!}
  • Hot Buttered Apple Cider (HERE}

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Tips for making Soul Cakes

  • In this recipe, I use Sour Cream. It wasn’t a typical ingredient in Soul Cakes but I’ve found that it gives them a much better texture and taste then making them without. You can also use plain Greek Yogurt if you like.
  • Also, while Soul Cakes are typically made with dried fruit, I used fresh apples in mine in conjunction with dried cranberries. I did this because I wanted to add another fruit component but only had prunes. I have to say, I love the fresh apples being in there. It gives them a burst of flavor and I think helps to keep the cakes moist.
  • Feel free to try variations on this recipe. You can use raisins instead of cranberries or whatever dried fruit you like including dried apples, mangos and more. If you prefer nutty fruit cakes you can use cut pecans or walnuts too.

Thank you so much for visiting today, friends! I hope that you love my recipe for Soul Cakes and that you come back to visit again. You can find the full, printable recipe below!

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Soul Cakes recipe for Samhain (6)

Soul Cakes Recipe

Enjoy these Soul Cakes as a more traditional Samhain celebration food! You'll love the flavor and how they're the perfect biscuit-like foods to go with cider, ale, tea, coffee or even wine. Save the recipe today!

Print Pin Rate

Course: Appetizer, Dessert, Snack

Cuisine: Celtic, English, European, Irish

Keyword: Samhain soul cakes, Soul cakes, Soul cakes recipe

Servings: 12

Author: Rachel


  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt with full fat
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or milk preference
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 apple diced I used Pink Lady apples but Honey Crisp or Fuji would work well too.
  • Additional milk and sugar for topping
  • Additional 1/4 cup of flour for rolling out dough.


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees

  • Cream together sugar and butter with a hand mixer.

  • Then add in sour cream, milk and vanilla extract and mix.

  • Next add in baking powder and pumpkin pie spice and mix.

  • Add in the flour one cup at a time and mix well. Dough will be piece-y.

  • Fold in the dried cranberries and apples and then chill dough for 20 minutes.

  • Roll out dough on parchment paper and use extra flour on your hands, rolling pin and parchment paper as needed. Roll about 1/2 inch thick. Maybe a little less.

  • Using a cookie cutter or a biscuit cutter, cut the Soul Cakes out and place them on a cookie sheet that's lined with parchment paper.

  • Cut the X in the top and decorate with dried fruit if you want to. Brush the tops with milk

  • Brush the tops with milk and then bake for 12 minutes on the middle oven rack.

  • Remove them from the oven and brush the tops with milk again and then sprinkle on sugar. Bake for another 11-14 minutes until the tops have started to brown a bit. Do not bake them for longer than 26 minutes total.

  • Transfer to a cooling rack right away and let them cool completely. Then serve them with coffee, tea, cider, ale or even wine!

Soul Cakes recipe for Samhain (2024)
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