A while ago my sister had a Shropshire Recipe Book as a gift, it brings together traditional recipes for the area. It's one of a series of books that cover most counties in the UK. Having a flick through, I spotted the popular and most well known of Shropshire recipes, Shropshire Fidget Pie and Shrewsbury Biscuits. However one of the more unusual recipes was Shropshire Soul Cakes.
According to the book on All Soul's Day 2nd November the dead are remembered and children would go 'a-souling'. Singing "A soul-cake, a soul-cake, please, good missues, a soul-cake. One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who saved us all". In return the children would then receive a cake marked with a cross. So what better time of the year for me to bake them.
This being an old recipe, it gave me no indication of how many cakes the ingredients would make or what size they should be. With no photographs in the book, and instruction's such as - divide into pieces and form into flat cakes, are not all that helpful! Whilst I was baking my father called by, on asking if he had ever heard of Shropshire Soul Cakes, or did he know what they looked like - his response was very 21st century 'have you Googled it?'. Yes, I know I could of 'Googled' but I was treating this as my very own Great British Bake Off technical challenge, so I resisted the Google urge.
Soul Cakes Recipe (makes 12-14)
190 degrees C / Gas 4
6 oz caster sugar
3 egg yolks
1 lb flour (I used plain)
pinch of salt
1 tsp mixed spice
3 oz currants
a little warm milk
a few saffron threads
- In a small bowl warm the milk (about 3 tablespoons) and add the saffron, and leave to infuse.
- In a separate bowl cream the butter, sugar together for a few minutes until fluffy.
- Beat in the egg yolks
- Sift together the flour, salt, mixed spice into the mixture adding the currants and the milk a little at a time, be sure to strain the milk.
- Combine together to form a soft dough.Divide into pieces and form into flat cakes onto a baking sheet, marking each with a cross.
- Bake for 20-28 minutes until golden brown.
So having made my cakes and now feeling able to 'Google', I can see there are many interpretation's of the recipe and most are somewhere in between a biscuit and a cake. So I'm not so far off the mark.
The cakes in both appearance and consistency were a cross between a scone and a rock bun. If the story behind the cakes is true then I'm pretty sure you would not get children returning for more! Not that they were awful, I just would of preferred a scone or a rock bun. So if one day someone was to ever bake a cake to remember me, hear this - I'd rather it be a big fat Chelsea Bun!
|With the bottom of the cake's well browned I|
could not leave them in the oven any longer