Halloween food: Soul cakes and cider donuts

October 31, 2011

Last night at the witching hour I couldn't sleep so I decided to read a while about Halloween foods. I was surprised to learn about soul cakes

Legend has it that they were the ancestors to our Halloween candy and trick-or-treating tradition, but they carried more signficance: For every cake eaten, a soul was released from Purgatory. T. Susan Chang wrote on NPR in 2007 that their origin story and recipe, if there ever was a single one, has been lost to the ages.

I believe if the soul cake has a modern-day descendent, it must be the cider donut.

Or perhaps even its more elusive cousin, the pumpkin donut.

I've been on a quest to find the perfect cider donut all my life. An old thread on LTH Forum revealed a few leads, but it was Eddie Lakin, pre-Edzo's, who conjured his childhood memory at Apple Haus Bakery and Cider Mill in Long Grove, Ill. that had me counting the minutes until I could visit one morning at 10 a.m. [Update: Apple Haus closed in January 2012. They occasionally sell their cider donuts at local festivals. Follow their Facebook page for news.]

You see, the Haus opens their doors then, so that's the soonest I could get them, the witching hour of donuts if you will.

I could smell them in the air as I walked up. When I left, the box was still warm, as if they held a living thing.

How were they? Magical. Suprisingly small, given our modern donuts, but heavy for their size, with a slightly crisp crust, capturing a riot of tumultous autumn spices in their moist and tender crumb.

Certainly each one more than enough to save a soul, or two.