Soul Cake Technical Challenge

Just like the Great British Bake Off technical challenge, historic soul cake recipes sometimes only give a bare outline! This early recipe comes from Oxfordshire; it survives in a household book compiled by Lady Elinor Fettiplace around 1604. It involves ‘ale barm’ (a fermenting agent, ale froth), and sack (dry white wine from Spain, possibly sherry):

Take flower & sugar & nutmeg & cloves & mace & sweet butter & sack & a little ale barm, beat your spice & put in your butter & your sack, cold, then work it well all together & make it in little cakes & so bake them, if you will you may put in some saffron into them or fruit.

With no weights or measures for the ingredients, or instructions for baking, it’s not clear whether this should rise like a bun or bake like a shortbread. Can you experiment and share what you think it should be like (or what can go wrong)?

Once you’ve mastered this, have a go at inventing your own ‘soul stopper‘ – a new creation that reflects County Durham in particular.

Share Your Bakes

By testing this recipe you’ll be adding to our understanding of what soul cakes might originally have been like. Share your impressions and picture via the form below, or you can email researcher Barbara Ravelhofer (barbara.ravelhofer@durham.ac.uk). Tweet via #SoulCakeBake

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