I thought about whomping up a rather detailed and probably controversial account of Halloween through the ages.
Instead I’m going to talk about cookies.
Medieval people went “souling” every year on All Saint’s Day (1 November). They’d go from house to house, chanting prayers or singing songs, and householders would hand out cookie-type goodies called soul cakes to them when they were finished. This custom is an ancestor of trick-or-treating, only it wasn’t just kids who’d go since you could also expect a mug of ale with your soul cake.
Want to try them? Of course you do.
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
4 cups flour, sifted
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cloves
¼ cup milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the butter and sugar until creamy. Mix all dry ingredients together, then slowly add to the butter mixture. Add enough milk to make a dough the consistency of cookie dough.
Roll the dough flat (about half an inch thick) and use a drinking glass to cut the cakes. Mark each with an X. Use your biggest knife because this makes it more awesome.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until golden-brown.
If you feel like being completely inauthentic, they taste great dipped in or drizzled with chocolate syrup.
This recipe was adapted from one printed in British Calendar Customs (Folklore Society of London, 1940).