Saintly Meals-Pão-por-Deus

st--michael-and-pals-43973-mToday in my place of worship and in many places of worship across the world, we will celebrate “All Saints’ Day.” In a very simple and humble explanation-It is a time for Christians to give thanks for the lives of those that have gone on before us. In my local church context, we will honor both known and unknown saints.

In Portugal, Portuguese children celebrate, Pão-por-Deus-Bread in the Name of God.This bread/cake is an offering given to the poor or dead on All Saints Day. The tradition goes something like this: kids all over Portugal go to people’s homes, street vendors, stalls and say this “Pão-por-Deus” and the kids are given treats or items that these folks specialize- could be a baked good or cake known as Soulmass cake, nuts, or fruit. Sounds a bit like Halloween?

Since this is an international food blog for the most part, I thought about the Soulmass cake and decided to do some searching for a recipe. Google the word “soulmass cake” and you find one recipe that links to a site that talks about how a small town in Lancashire, England will make this recipe on “All Souls Day.” They call it Harcake which has some nice warm ingredients in it like ginger, syrup, and oats. Once prepared and the longer it sits/ages, the better it is. See the recipe below. You will need to do some conversion. Please see link for this as well at bottom of blog.

I plan on taking a go at this, this afternoon and will let you know. Meanwhile, have a wonderful day-however you spend it. Today, I remember my saints- Jerry, Andrea, and Uncle Ned.

Harcake or Soul-Mass cake

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 60g butter, softened
  • 500g fine oatmeal
  • 350 ml golden syrup (corn syrup)
  • 15g ground ginger
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 200ml brown ale or stout (like Newcastle Brown Ale or Guinness)

Recipe Method

Pre-heat the oven to 190C

Grease with a little butter and line the base with baking parchment of a 25cm (10 inch) x 20cm (8 inch) baking tin.

In a large mixing bowl add the oatmeal and rub in the softened butter with your fingers.

Sprinkle over the ground ginger and pour in the golden syrup (corn syrup). Use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients together.

Add the beaten egg and the brown ale and fully mix into a thick, smooth batter, if the batter seems a little dry add in some more brown ale as the oats will absorb a lot of moisture when baking.

Pour this batter for the Harcake into the prepared baking tin and bake in the oven at 190C for 1 and a half hours (90 minutes). After 45 minutes cover the tin with foil to stop the top of the cake browning to quickly and drying out.

Test the cake after 70 minutes by pushing a skewer into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean and hot the cake is done, if not leave for the full 90 minutes. Make sure you test the cake at intervals, it is easy to dry this cake out as the oatmeal absorbs a lot of the moisture as it bakes. If the cake is drying out too quickly add over the top a little more brown ale.

When the Harcake or Soul-mass Cake is fully baked remove the tin from the oven, cover over with foil and leave to cool for an hour. After an hour carefully turn the cake out and leave to cool completely.

When completely cold cut the cake into squares, cover in baking parchment or greaseproof paper and store in an air-tight cake tin for 3 days to 1 week before serving and eating. They can be served with a little jam or preserve spread on them.


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