Pumpkin Spice Soul Cakes from Cleo Coyle ~ Happy #Halloween

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Here is a tasty twist on an old tradition. Soul cakes are the culinary antecedent to the candy treats we give out on Halloween night, a custom originally connected with the church’s All Souls' Day (for more on that history, scroll down below my recipe). 

Cleo Coyle writes two
bestselling mystery
 series with her husband.
To learn more, click here.

Depending on the region and time period, soul cakes came in many variations. Most included spices and dried fruits with a cross on top. I had fun with this "soul cake" concept and created my own pumpkin spice version. Th
e combo of pumpkin and vegetable oil (instead of butter) creates soul cakes that are moister and lighter than traditional versions. The pumpkin adds fiber and nutrition too. 

Like pumpkin muffin tops, these soul cakes make a delicious breakfast or coffee-break snack. Sandwich two together for a fall whoopie pie, filling them with cream cheese, cream cheese frosting, or even marshmallow creme.

May you eat them with joy &
as the "Soul Cake" song says...
May God bless you!

~ Cleo

To download this recipe 
in a PDF document that 
you can print, save, 
or share, CLICK HERE.

Click here or on the image above
for Cleo's recipe in PDF form.



🎃 Cleo Coyle's 
Pumpkin Spice 
Soul Cakes

Servings: about 24 Little Cakes 


2 large eggs
½ cup vegetable or coconut oil 
1 cup whole milk (use whole for added fat, better flavor and texture)
1 (15-ounce) can of pureed pumpkin (about 2 cups)
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon table salt or finely ground sea salt (or 1 teaspoon coarse salt)
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup raisins and/or craisins (sweetened dried cranberries). 
   - If you're not a fan of raisins or craisins, try chocolate chips.


(1) One bowl mixing method: First preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Place eggs in bowl and whisk. Add oil, milk, canned pumpkin, brown and white sugars, vanilla, spices, salt, and baking powder. Whisk to blend well. Finally, add the flour. Switching to a sturdy spoon or spatula, mix to form a smooth batter. (You can use an electric mixer, if you like, but do not over mix.)

(2) Prep pan and drop: For best results, line baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat the paper with non-stick cooking spray. For each cake, fill the quarter cup (1/4) container of your measure cup set and mound it onto the prepared baking sheet. (Or use a ¼-cup size cookie scoop.) Leave room between mounds for spreading. 

(3) Swirl and decorate: Use the back of a tablespoon to swirl each mound of batter into a relatively even circle that is a little bit flatter than your original mound but not too flat. (See my photos as a guide.) Using raisins and craisins (or chocolate chips), create a cross on the cake to represent the prayers that beggars and the children of the poor once offered in exchange for the treat.

(4) Bake and serve: Your oven should be well pre-heated to 400° F. Bake about 10 – 15 minutes (depending on oven and size of your cake). Serve warm with butter or allow to cool and dust with powdered sugar if you like. For another idea, sandwich two together and you've got a fall whoopie pie. Cream cheese, cream cheese frosting, or marshmallow creme would all make tasty fillings.

Storage notes: Once cool, store your Pumpkin Spice Soul Cakes in the refrigerator after wrapping each separately in plastic or wax paper. They should keep several days that way and can be reheated in about 10 to 15 seconds in the microwave.

 History's Mysteries 

What is a Soul Cake?

Ever wonder why we give out candy treats on Halloween night? On the face of it, this holiday, which features ghosts and goblins and other scary things, makes little logical sense. I mean, really—if some denizen of the underworld were to knock on your door on a dark October night, would you chase it away by throwing candy at it? 

Well, yes, it seems the time-honored tradition requires that we do just that! About fifteen hundred years ago, Druids celebrated the fall festival of Samhain (the dying sun god), by lighting bonfires. They believed the souls of the dead returned to the physical world on Samhain eve and the fires would help ward them off.

As Christianity spread, Samhain was turned into All Souls' Eve (Halloween) and All Souls' Day (November 1), when the faithful said prayers to honor their dead ancestors. It was during this time that a new tradition was born. 

On All Souls' Eve, beggars and the children of the poor went from house to house, asking for food and promising to pray for the dead souls of your ancestors in return. As the custom evolved, these "soulers" were given "soul cakes" for their trouble. Each cake eaten would represent a soul being freed from Purgatory. This practice, of giving sweet treats to those who knocked on your door on All Souls' Eve, is thought to be one of the origins of modern Halloween trick-or-treating.

In 1891, a minister in Cheshire, England, wrote down a traditional song sung by Medieval soulers, learned from a little girl at the local school.

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.
One for Peter, two for Paul
Three for Him who made us all.

In 1963, Peter, Paul and Mary recorded a version of this traditional song. Here’s Sting’s (very beautiful) rendition, which he blends with the wassail song. Let's listen again...


Bonus Recipe!

Click here or on the photo above
to get Cleo's recipe for
Candy Apples with Honey!

Happy Halloween, Everyone!

Eat (and read) with joy!

New York Times bestselling author
of The Coffeehouse Mysteries and
Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

Cleo (Alice) with her husband Marc

Visit Cleo's online coffeehouse here.
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Our 20th 

Coffeehouse Mystery!

Bulletproof Barista

To Buy:

"Cleo Coyle aims and hits readers right in the heart with this one. You definitely don’t want to miss out on BULLETPROOF BARISTA!" —Fresh Fiction

"Scads of red herrings, peeks behind the show-biz curtain, and bountiful appended recipes will leave fans smiling contentedly." —Kirkus Reviews

"This twentieth Coffeehouse mystery (after Honey Roasted) brings together the history of the shop, ripped-from-the-headlines plot elements, [and] the drama of on-site filming."

Paperback Edition!

Includes a mini guide
to honey varieties
and a wonderful menu
of delicious recipes...

Click here or on the image above
for Cleo Coyle's Free Illustrated
Recipe Guide to Honey Roasted

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20 titles includes the added bonus of recipes.  

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Click here or on the image above
for Cleo's recipe in PDF form.