Soul cakes

Learn about the history of soul cakes with our Westgate Museum Assistant, Lauren Richardson and follow the recipe below for a tasty Halloween treat!

Traditionally for All Hallows Eve, what we now call Halloween, and All Souls’ Day, spiced cakes were made. These were called soul cakes. Soul cakes date back to the medieval period and they would be given to the poor as they went door-to-door begging during the hallowtide period.

Each cake is said to represent a soul in Purgatory and with each cake eaten, a soul would be released and allowed into Heaven. A cake would also be exchanged for prayers to be said for the dead. The more cakes you collected, and the more prayers offered to those in Purgatory, the less time they would spend there.

To bring a historical twist to your Halloween celebrations, you can find our version of a soul cakes recipe to make at home below.



100g butter (softened)
100g sugar
2 egg yolks
250g plain flour
50g raisins
1 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp ground nutmeg


  1. Turn on the oven to 180˚c/Gas Mark 4/ Fan 160. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg yolk, one at a time, and mix into the mixture. Then sift in the plain flour and spices.
  3. Once this is combined, stir in the raisins, and form a soft dough.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out until it is 1cm thick. Then, using a round biscuit cutter cut out the soul cakes and transfer to lined baking trays.
  5. Score a cross on top of each cake.
  6. Bake in the oven for around 20 – 25 minutes until golden.

Don’t forget to share your baking with us on instagram at @westgatemuseum and use the hashtag #hcthalloween.

This article was written by:
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Hampshire Cultural Trust

From museums to galleries to arts centres, we manage and support attractions across the county, welcoming over 740,000 people each year. Our charitable purpose is changing lives through culture.
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