Attention Bakers! Cool Catholic Custom Alert! Souling Cakes for All Souls

“Soul soul for a souling cake
I pray you, missis, for a souling cake
Apple or pear, plum or cherry
Anything to make us merry …”

Here is a cool custom to boost your Catholic Identity Quotient for this super Catholic day, All Souls.

Someone sent a link to a recipe for “Soul Cake”.  Here is the intro:

Soul Cake recipe is from the Cheshire region, on the border with North Wales. A Soul Cake (or Souling Cake) is a small round cake, like a biscuit, which is traditionally made for All Souls’ Day (the 2nd November, the day after All Saint’s Day) to celebrate the dead. These plain cakes, often simply referred to as souls, were given out to the soulers, children and the poor, (beggars) who would go from door to door during this period saying prayers and singing psalms and songs for the dead.
Traditionally each cake eaten would represent a soul being freed from Purgatory. The practice of giving and eating soul cakes is often seen as the origin of modern day Trick or Treating, which now falls on Halloween (two days before All Souls’ Day). The tradition of ‘souling’ and giving out Soul Cakes on All Soul’s Day originated in Britain and Ireland hundreds of years ago, from giving out bread on All Souls’ Day during the devout Middle Ages….


There is also a link to Catterning Cake, equally interesting.  They are for St. Catherine’s Day on 25 November and are named either after St. Catherine of Alexandria or perhaps for Catherine of Aragon (in which case I might include some pomegranate).

If someone makes Souling Cakes today, All Souls, please take photos and give us a review!

There are photos and step by step directions.

Don’t you think some Mystic Monk Coffee or Tea would go well with these?


A reader sent this photo and note!

Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

I made the soul cakes with a blend of gluten-free flours and dairy-free margarine in place of the butter, to suit my dietary restrictions. They were shared around, and many prayers offered up for the souls in purgatory as a result. A lovely tradition, and a delicious recipe.

Another photo:

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Fr. Z's Kitchen, Just Too Cool, Our Catholic Identity and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. I love it! Great idea for next year. Someone sent me a great idea for All Saints as well. These are beautiful. Wish I had the program to make these myself.

  2. priests wife says:

    for those that enjoy Sting’s music, a few years back he released an album called On A Winter’s Night- there is a song called ‘Soul Cakes’- (very good- in my opinion)

  3. Consilio et Impetu says:

    I remember Peter, Paul and Mary (no pun intended) singing this song. You can view it here:

  4. Vincentius says:

    I lived in Perugia, Italy for a number of years (home of Perugina candy) and their culinary tradition for All Souls was a pasta w/ a chocolate sauce. (As I recall a only slightly moistened sweeted cocoa powder w/ chocolate in the fettucine themselves). Believe it or not, it was actually quite good.
    Good competition for Soul Cakes.

  5. Wendy says:

    I tried this recipe last year. They are good, something of a sugar-and-spice cookie. I had to dig deep into the genealogy to find enough family souls to pray for.

    This year, I used oatmeal, which is another traditional ingredient for soul cakes in another part of Great Britain.

    Next year, it will be seed-cakes (again, another traditional ingredient from another part of Great Britain), possibly in the traditional triangle shape.

    There are a lot of different souling cakes out there.

  6. Jenny says:

    Priest’s Wife,
    We have that album and my girls (6 and ~4) love that song except they misunderstand the lyrics and call it ‘soul-kick.’ It is funny to hear them sing the soul kick song. :)

  7. mwa says:

    Here’s the music and words for the Shropshire souling song from the late 19thC
    Peter Paul & Mary seem to have the original recorded version (they add Yuletide elements)

  8. Dr. Eric says:

    Ask and ye shall receive. The link is Sting singing “Soul Cake” on the Late Show w/ David Letterman.

  9. Supertradmum says:

    I prefer the Peter, Paul and Mary version, but I saw them in person singing this is 1966, when I was dating a young man who became a priest. Happy memories. I have this song memorized, as we used to sing in the 1960s in groups with friends.

  10. Penny says:

    I’ve handed out Soul Cakes to my 5th grade CCD students for the past several years only the recipe I’ve made looks more like a roll. I make them a bit sweeter and with more flavoring than the recipe calls for since they are for the students.

    I attach a label explaining that beggars would promise to pray for deceased family members in exchange for a soul cakes. Slips of paper would accompany the cakes listing the names of those departed souls in need of prayers. The practice often took place over all three days – All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls.

    As for the song, it varied as well. The versions I’ve come across most were “ a soul cake, a soul cake, have mercy on all Christian souls for a soul cake” and “Soul Soul an apple or two. If you haven’t an apple, a pear will do. One for Peter, 2 for Paul, 3 for him who made us all.” Some suggested this last one was used when the soul cakes had run out or the beggars just didn’t care anymore. The story went that the cakes became more important than the prayers and another legend (one of many I’m sure) sprang up about the birth of the donut. In any event, this last version is the basis of Peter, Paul & Mary’s “A Soulin'”

  11. SSRutherford says:

    I found them to be quite delightful! I made these this afternoon. Added one egg and a tablespoon of vanilla to keep them moist. Looks like I found a new tradition for our home! This photo was taken shortly before their annihilation:

  12. Rachel K says:

    I live in Cheshire! This evening I made soul cakes from a recipe in an Italian cookbook which is the only one I have for this, I can’t find an English one. The Italians call them sweet broad beans so this custom is also around Europe too. I also understood this to be the root of Trick or Treating. Just two weeks ago a Catholic homeschooling friend recommended the Sting Winter CD and we have been learning the SoulCake song; I think the words are an adaptation of the traditional rhyme:
    Soul cake, soul cake, I pray thee good missus a soul cake. An apple a pear a plum or a cherry, any good thing to make us all merry. One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who made us all…
    My recipe includes ground almonds and cinnamon- the cakes are like small soft macaroons but I overcooked them a little tonight so may need to dip them in tea to soften them!
    I understand that in return for the cake one had to pray for the departed souls of the family who donated it.

  13. irishgirl says:

    Vincentius-pasta with CHOCOLATE sauce? Seriously? Sounds interesting!
    Supertradmum-I listened to the Peter, Paul and Mary version of ‘Soul Cakes’ on the YouTube link you provided. Couldn’t get the video part to jive with the audio, but the song was pretty cool. I remember the opening lines, ‘Hey ho, nobody at home’; I sang that as a round back in my schooldays (wow, that sure takes me back….).
    The pictures of the ‘soul cakes’ are making me pretty hungry! I want to ‘bite the screen’….no, not really….! [blush, then silly grin]

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