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Soul Cakes for All Souls’ Day



It’s 2 November, All Souls’ Day, and today I baked Soul  Cakes, the traditional fare for this special day.

 “The cakes, often simply referred to as souls, are given out to soulers who go from door to door, singing and saying prayers for the souls of the givers and their friends.”

The musician Sting has a version of the traditional song “Soul Cake” on his album “If on a Winter’s Night”. Here are some lyrics.

“A soul cake, a soul cake,

Please, good missus, a soul cake.

An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,

Any good thing to make us all merry,

A soul cake, a soul cake,

Please, good missus, a soul cake.

One for Peter, two for Paul,

And three for Him that made us all.”

These souls cakes are half biscuit, half cake. They are heavily spiced, and coloured yellow with a little saffron. I added the zest of a mandarin, an orange is just as good. I made mine quite thick, to be more cake like, and less like a biscuit. I think this works well.

My soul cakes are a little rustic, ie not very pretty, but taste really spicy and are quite more-ish.

While a traditional treat for this day, you could make them anytime as they are super delicious!

Ingredients

100 g butter, softened

100g caster sugar

2 free-range egg yolks

250g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 -1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon saffron

Zest of an orange or mandarin

2 tbs milk

75g sultanas

Method

Put the softened butter, caster sugar and egg yolks in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until everything is combined and the mixture is creamy. Don’t worry if it looks split – the addition of the flour will fix that!

Sift the flour and spices,including the saffron. Put the mixture with the orange/mandarin zest into the processor, blitzing for a couple of seconds only, then blitz in the milk a little at a time until the dough just comes together. Don’t over-mix! If the dough isn’t yellow enough, add a pinch more of saffron.

Stir in the sultanas by hand.

Form the dough into a rough ball, them roll into a sausage shape, with a rough diameter of about 50cm or 2 inches, or whatever size you want your soul cakes to be.

Wrap in grease proof paper and chill in the fridge for a couple oh hours or until you want to bake.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced or 180 degrees C non fan forced.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Take the sausage from the fridge and cut into thick wedges. Place each wedge on the baking tray. At this stage you should cut a cross on the top of each soul cake. I have to admit I forgot to do this today! But I  have included a photo of a prototype batch with crosses. Incidentally these ones looked nicer but didn’t have the lovely rich spicy taste of the version in this post.


Bake for 15 minutes or until firm and just brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Delicious eaten warm! If not eaten on the day they will harden up a bit. The soul cakes can  be frozen too, but eat on the day if possible – All Souls’ Day!

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Dates, Apricots and Couscous

IMG_5436
This recipe was inspired from a recipe by Anthony Worrall Thompson. http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/4817/moroccan-chicken-tagine

Ingredients
The Tagine
1tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 cinnamon or cassia stick
1 ½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp chili paste
2 tsp tagine mix (The Essential Ingredient has a very good one)
750 gms chicken thigh fillets, cut into chunks
2 tbls olive oil
2 eschallots, finely  chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100 gms dates cut in half
1 tsp  honey
½ tsp saffron strands, soaked in a little warm water
300 mls chicken stock
400 gms tin chopped tomatoes
100 gms roughly chopped dried apricots

Couscous
225 gms couscous
4 tbls extra virgin olive oil
Juice 1 lemon
225 mls chicken or vegetable stock
Sea salt
Handful chopped parsley or coriander
Handful of flaked almonds

IMG_5447 ENH

Method
Heat the oven to 150 degrees C.
Place all the spices in a mortar and pestle and grind to combine, then tip half into a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and toss until evenly coated. Leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 1/2 – 1 hour.
Heat a large tagine or heavy based casserole and add half the olive oil. Tip in the chicken and cook over a fairly high heat until evenly browned, then tip onto a plate. Add the remaining olive oil to the tagine and stir in the remaining spices and the eshallots, and then cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for a further couple of  minutes or until the onion is softened but not browned, stirring occasionally.
Return the browned chicken pieces to the tagine with the dates, honey, saffron mixture, chicken stock and chopped tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour. Add the chopped apricots and cook a further 15 – 30 minutes until the chicken is completely tender but holding its shape and the sauce has thickened.

To make the couscous, place the couscous in a large bowl and add the oil and lemon juice. Mix well, ensuring that all the grains are coated. Heat the stock in a small pan and season generously with sea salt. Pour over the couscous, stir well, cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes before gently separating the grains with a fork. The couscous can be left like this for up to 4 hours.
When ready to serve, check the seasoning  and place in the microwave to reheat for a couple of minutes. Fluff with a fork. Scatter the herbs and flaked almonds just before serving.

Serve the chicken in the cooking tagine with side dishes such as Greek yoghurt,  green olives, chili paste and pomegranate seeds, and with herb-scented couscous.IMG_5438 enh

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