The day following All Saints is All Souls. Today is also National Ohio Day and National Deviled Eggs Day. For the past two years I concentrated on Ohio Day. It was fun, informative and oh so delicious. For whatever reason, we’ve simply skipped Deviled Egg Day. Not that we haven’t enjoyed numerous Deviled Egg Recipes, we just haven’t done so on National Deviled Egg Day. Maybe next year.
This year I’d rather focus not on the National Days of secular nature but on a day important to my faith. It’s one that I have observed privately, but not discussed here. It’s time I do.
Yesterday was All Saints Day. Today is All Souls Day. These are not the same. Some churches do combine the two, but when that happens the meanings are often lost. All Saints, as the name implies, honors all those who have attained sainthood and are now in Heaven.
All Souls is a way to remember every Christian who has died. Some sleep before entering heaven. Others need to be purged first. This is the Catholic belief in purgatory. Catholic doctrine not only teaches us of the existence of purgatory, it tells us that our prayers and efforts of good works for those souls in purgatory has an impact. For Protestants, there is no purgatory, so there is no need to pray for the forgiveness of those who have gone before us. Protestants believe that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is all that was necessary. For them, All Souls takes on a more personal meaning as a way to remember loved ones who are no longer with us. While Catholics also remember, we are duty bound to offer up prayers of forgiveness. In many ways, it is healing not only for the departed, but for those left in the wake of our grief.
Catholics believe in confession for the forgiveness of sins. Studies show that there are great emotional benefits to confession. It does so much good to hear another human being say “You are forgiven.” The same can be said for All Souls Day. Sometimes there are unsettled issues between the living and the dead. It seems impossible for those issues to be resolved. But when we pray for the departed, it’s a way to achieve peace. God works miracles every day. Sometimes those miracles are so small, no one notices the healing He gives to His children.
A lovely tradition for All Souls Day is to give out Soul Cakes to children who come knocking. This tradition was known as “Souling” and it was said that for every cake eaten, a soul was freed from Purgatory. The giving and receiving of soul cakes started in the Middle Ages, and some see this practice as the origins of Trick or Treating. Soul Cakes are not cakes in the American understanding, but more akin to shortbread cookies or Scones. Hence enjoy your Soul Cakes with a lovely cup of tea.
May God comfort you now and forever.
2 Egg Yolks
1/2 cup Butter
2 cups Flour
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Milk
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Currants
Yellow Food Coloring
1 beaten Egg Yolk, for the glaze
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Separate eggs. Reserve whites for another use or discard. Set yolks aside. Let butter soften.
Combine the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. Warm the milk over low heat, until just hot to the touch. Add a few drops of food coloring. Remove from the heat.
Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg yolks and blend thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients and continue to mix. The mixture will appear dry and crumbly. Begin adding the warm milk, one tablespoon at a time, until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally as needed. When a a soft dough is reached, stop adding the milk. This may be a little as 4 or 5 tablespoons of milk.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead gently, until the dough is uniform. Roll out to a thickness of 1/2-inch. Using a floured, 2-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds possible and set on an ungreased baking sheet. Cakes can be spaced closely together since they do not spread during baking.
Separate another egg, retaining white for another purpose. Beat yolk, brush cakes liberally with the yolk for a glaze.
Brush with the beaten egg yolk, and decorate with currants. With the widest part of a butter knife, cut an X in half of the cakes. Use the currants to make an X in the remaining half of the cookies.
Place in the heated oven. Bake for about 12 minutes, until just golden and shiny. Cool on a wire rack.