I make these every year and people seem to enjoy them even they don't know the back story but it's more interesting if you do.
Soul cakes have a varied and widespread history in Western Europe. Traditionally, they were given to beggars (often neighbor children) in exchange for a prayer on behalf of the household dead. "One cake, one soul" was the motto among Catholic countries. The tradition persisted beyond the Reformation.
The idea was that the prayer made on All Souls (November 2) would free a soul from purgatory. The origins are lost in time but probably harken back to "sin eaters" among the pagans; those hardy folks too sensible or too desperate to care if the cake actually held the sins of the dear departed.
Sinful or not, these are tasty and seasonal tidbits.
There are zillion recipes for Soul Cakes but this one works very well:
2 sticks of butter
3 3/4 cups sifted flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the butter into the flour with a fork. Add the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg.
Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, then add the vinegar to the eggs. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat until a stiff dough forms.
Knead and roll out, about a quarter inch thick. Use the lip of a drinking glass to cut the dough into rounds and set them on a greased baking sheet. Prick the top of the cakes with a fork.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Let these soul cakes cool and then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy!