An earlier form of carolling – and trick or treating, to boot - is the tradition of “souling” or “soul-caking”.
As singers make the rounds, door-to-door, chanting ancient rhymes a welcome reward is a soul cake – for which there are a range of recipes.
Here’s one from Shropshire, a county in the West Midlands of England, that’s collected by Dorothy Gladys Spicer for publication in her 1960 book “Feast-Day Cakes from Many Lands”.
6 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 egg white, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Cream shortening and sugar. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water to which a teaspoon of sugar has been added. Set aside. Scald milk and add to the creamed mixture. When cooled add yeast mixture and stir until thoroughly blended. Sift together flour, salt, and spices, and add gradually to other ingredients, kneading into a soft dough. Set sponge to rise in warm place in greased covered bowl. When doubled in bulk, shape into small round or oval buns. Brush tops with slightly beaten egg white. Bake in moderately hot oven (400° F.) for 15 minutes. Drop temperature to 350 ° F. and bake until delicately browned and thoroughly done.”
To join in the musical feasting, here’s Corner Brook’s Allison Crowe with the first song track served up by her a cappella album "Souling".