Samhain recipes

Originating in ancient Europe as a Celtic celebration, Samhain  (pronounced saahwin) is now an event that is celebrated worldwide. It’s a pagan holiday to honor the changing of the seasons and acknowledge the end of the harvest and the beginning of colder weather. There’s also the ancient notion that during this time of year the veil between the living world and the land of dead is thinned, making communication with ancestors and loved ones easier. Because of this, family and friends that have passed away are often honored during Samhain.

Most observers practice Samhain traditions from sundown on October 31 through November 1, while others prefer to celebrate on a later date that is closer to the midpoint between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice.

What are some traditional Samhain foods?

Samhain is often celebrated with food of some type. Since Samhain is usually a communal event, which is sometimes centered around a bonfire or a type of group ceremony, a feast is commonly served. To honor passed away loved ones, a place is often prepared and a plate served for those that are “missing” from these celebrations.

Since Samhain is such an ancient practice, not that many “traditional” recipes are still in use, but there are still plenty of options to keep in the holiday’s spirit.  Recipes can focus on fall produce that will soon become scarcer, they can be dishes from the family or friends you’re choosing to honor, or meals can center in on foods you’d like to share with your community. Below are several recipe suggestions that will make your next Samhain a delicious one:

Soul Cakes

One of the most commonly served foods for Samhain are soul cakes.  Although their origins in history are a bit hazy, everything from appeasing evil spirits to feeding beggars, it has become a dish that is closely associated with the fall celebration. Just as the origin stories vary greatly, so do the recipes for soul cakes. They come in all shapes and sizes, and the texture can be anything from biscuit-like to cakes. Most recipes seem to include a type of dried fruit, such as currants or golden raisins, and a dash of nutmeg and saffron.

Soul Cakes

Soul cakes

Soul cakes get stale within a day or two, so eat ’em while they’re hot.

Makes 12 to 15 2-inch soul cakes

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground fresh if possible

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground fresh if possible

1/2 teaspoon salt

Generous pinch of saffron

1/2 cup milk

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup currants

For the Glaze:

1 egg yolk, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the flour, the nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Mix well with a fork.

Crumble the saffron threads into a small saucepan and heat over low heat just until they become aromatic, taking care not to burn them. Add the milk and heat just until hot to the touch. The milk will have turned a bright yellow. Remove from heat.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon (or use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment). Add the egg yolks and blend in thoroughly with the back of the spoon. Add the spiced flour and combine as thoroughly as possible; the mixture will be dry and crumbly.

One tablespoon at a time, begin adding in the warm saffron milk, blending vigorously with the spoon. When you have a soft dough, stop adding milk; you probably won’t need the entire half-cup.

Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead gently, with floured hands, until the dough is uniform. Roll out gently to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Using a floured 2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as you can and set on an ungreased baking sheet. You can gather and re-roll the scraps, gently.

Decorate the soul cakes with currants and then brush liberally with the beaten egg yolk. Bake for 15 minutes, until just golden and shiny. Serve warm, with cold pumpkin juice.

Mulled Wine

Spiced Mulled Wine

Obviously, imbibing is often associated with merriment, and despite Samhain commonly being a holiday that is associated with spookiness and death, it’s still a time to gather and enjoy socializing with friends and family. Mulled wine is a centuries-old drink, meaning it could have been consumed during more ancient Samhain celebrations. Either way, it’s delicious. Flavored with cinnamon, cloves, and other spices, sweet red wine is balanced out with a dash of bright citrus in our Spiced Mulled Wine recipe.

Watch: How to Make Mulled Wine


Irish Soda Bread

Yet another baked good associated with Samhain, barmbrack is a recipe with Celtic roots. Traditionally this yeast bread is sweet and studded with dried fruits like raisins and fresh citrus zest. In the same vein as a King Cake, barmbrack can be baked with trinkets inside (make sure they’re thoroughly washed and wrapped parchment paper) to act as a form of fortune-telling. Every item has its own meaning and can include things like rings (marriage), a coin (wealth), a piece of cloth (hard times), and more. You can easily mix and match the trinkets you include to have personal meanings or predictions.

Traditional Irish Barmbrack Bread Recipe

Here is our recipe for Barmbrack which is delicious when served buttered. It will keep for around 10 days.


6oz/175g raisins
6oz/175g sultanas
4oz/100g currents
2oz/50g mixed candied peel
1 cup strong black tea
3 tbsp Irish Whiskey (optional)
1lb/450g plain flour
¼oz/7g dried yeast
1 cup/250ml milk (lukewarm)
1 level tspn ground cinnamon
1 level tspn ground nutmeg
3oz/75g softened butter
3oz/75g castor sugar
1 egg – beaten

  1. On the previous evening, place the raisins, sultanas, currents, mixed candied peel, the strong black tea and, if you wish, the Whiskey, which will give a fuller flavour, into a bowl and leave to soak overnight.
  2. When you are ready to make the brack, grease a 9inch/23cm round cake tin.
  3. Sift the flour into a ‘warm’ bowl. Then stir in the yeast, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Make a well and pour the lukewarm milk into it. Make sure the milk is not too hot, otherwise it will kill the yeast. Add the beaten egg and mix into a consistent dough. Cover the bowl and leave in a warm place for at least an hour for the mixture to rise to about twice its size.
  4. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and gradually work in the butter followed by the soaked fruit.
  5. Now is a good time to add any trinkets to it such as a ring, making sure they are wrapped in greaseproof paper and evenly distributed in the dough.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas Mark 6.
  7. Leave the dough for a further 20 minutes to continue rising.
  8. Place the dough into the baking tin and bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. If you wish to glaze it then mix 1 tbsp sugar with 3 tbsp of hot water and brush this over the top of the brack and bake for a further few minutes.
  10. Remove it from the tin onto a rack and allow to cool.


Apricot- Apple Cider

1 gal apple cider

1 (11.5oz) can apricot nectar

2 cups sugar

2 cups orange juice

¾ cup lemon juice

4 (3in) long cinnamon sticks

2 tsps ground allspice

1 tsp ground cloves

½ tsp ground nutmeg

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven; reduce heat, and simmer 10 mins.  Remove cinnamon sticks and serve Hot!  (Makes 21 cups)

Cranberry- Brie Cheese Spread

1 (15 oz) round Brie

1 (16 oz) can whole-berry cranberry sauce

¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 Tb. Spiced rum (or orange juice)

½ tsp ground nutmeg

¼ cup chopped pecans, toasted

Trim the rind from top of Brie, leaving a 1/3 inch border on top.  Place Brie on a baking sheet

Stir together cranberry sauce and next 3 ingredients; spread mixture evenly over top of Brie.  Sprinkle evenly with pecans.

Bake at 500* for 5 mins.  Serve with assorted crackers, apple and pear slices.


pumpkin photo

Spicy Pumpkin Butter

    • 1/4 c Dark brown sugar, packed


    • 2 tb Sugar
    • 1/4 c Water
    • 1/2 ts Allspice
    • 1/4 ts Ginger
    • 1/4 ts Cloves
    • 1/4 ts Nutmeg
    • 1/2 ts Cinnamon
    • 1 1/2 c Pumpkin
    • Add to whipped cream to garnish a Pumpkin Pie
    • Combine the two sugars, water, allspice, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon in 4-cup glass measure. Mix well on high 3 minutes; stir. Add pumpkin and mix well n high 5 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate. Keeps several weeks in the refrigerator or can be frozen.
    Yield: 2 cups Use as you would apple butter.

muffin photo


                                        1 1/4 cup sugar

      • 2 1/4 cup flour
      • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
      • 2 teaspoons baking soda
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
      • 3/4 cup raisins
      • 4 large grated carrots (2 cups)
      • 1 apple, shredded
      • 8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
      • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
      • 3 eggs
      • 1 cup vegetable oil
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • Sift together the sugars, flours, cinnamon, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Add the fruit, carrots, nuts, and stir to combine. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, oil, and vanilla. Pour this mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir to blend well. Spoon mixture into cupcake tins lined with muffin papers. Fill to brim of each cup. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Toothpick inserted into the middle of muffin will come out clean when muffins are done. Cool muffins in pan for 10 minutes then turn out on rack to cool. Yield is 16 muffins. Muffins improve even more after 24 hours. Freezes well.


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