"Soul" Doughnuts Recipe - Catholic Rural Life

“Soul” Doughnuts Recipe

Florence Berger • October 31, 2023

Cooking for Christ Cookbook

Hallowmas consists of three days, each dedicated to praying for the dead. The first day is All Hallows Eve, which is the time for the living to honor all the dead. The second day is the Solemnity of All Saints, a holy day during which we honor all the saints in heaven. Lastly, the third day is All Souls Day, which is dedicated to praying for the holy souls still in purgatory. All in all, it is a beautiful celebration of the communion of saints!

Florence Berger shares in depth in the Cooking for Christ cookbook about her family’s traditions surrounding Hallowmas as well as the history of the holiday celebration from varying traditions and cultures around the world. Florence shares the tale of how doughnuts were created to remind children to pray for the dead.

She writes:

“It seems, however, that in one rich man’s house there was a cook who had imagination. She had made Soul Cakes at Hallowmas for years. She noticed how the children were becoming secularized. Instead of singing plain chant, they were whining doggerel. Instead of thinking of the meaning of their acts, they were thinking only of their stomachs as they yelled in her window:

Soul! Soul! for a soul cake!
I pray good missus, a soul cake!
An apple or pear, a plum or a cherry
Any good thing to make us merry.
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him who made us all.
Up with the kettle and down with the pan,
Give us good alms and we’ll be gone.

She also had a grave suspicion that once those children left the door they thought no more of the poor souls for whom they were to pray. They stuffed her good sweet buns in their hungry mouths, and never so much as an “Ave” ascended to heaven for the dead.

One year she decided to fix them so that with every bite they would remember why they had been given the cake. Instead of making plain round buns, she made a circular bun with a hole in the middle. In those days the never-ending circle was common parlance for everlasting life and our passage to it. The result of her cleverness was a doughnut, a reminder of prayer. Requiescat in pace.”

“Soul” Doughnuts


2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk
5 tbsp melted butter
4 cups whole-wheat flour, sifted
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling
About 3 cups vegetable oil for frying


Combine the eggs, milk and shortening. Stir in the flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and cinnamon. Roll the dough on a well-floured board until ¼ inch thick. Cut out circles with a doughnut cutter. Fill a large fryer or deep saucepan with the vegetable oil, and heat until it reaches 365 degrees. Fry the circles a few at a time until they rise and turn golden. Remove with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon while still warm.

Purchase a copy of the newly revised Cooking for Christ cookbook here.

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