Happy All Hallow’s Eve
Today marks the beginning of some of my favorite days of the year (outside of Christmas of course) the beginning of the Dias de Los Muertos celebrations AKA All Saint’s Day & All Soul’s Day AKA my birthday. As a kid it was candy coma followed by a couple days feasting – perfection. As I grew older, and being the history aficionado that I am, I enjoyed delving deep into the history and background of this holiday surrounding my birthday.
For nearly 1500 years these days have been set aside to celebrate, honor and remember the dead and loved one’s who have passed away. This ancient Christian holiday begins on the evening of the 31st of October – All Hallow’s Eve which was shortened over the centuries in English to Halloween. This day unofficially came to symbolize the punishments of Hell and the dangers of the forces of Evil hence its current American focus on horror. Then on the 1st of November we have All Saint’s Day (in formal English known as All Hallow’s Day) which celebrates the saints and their lives. Finally the 3 day festival ends with All Soul’s Day on the 2nd of November which honors and remembers those that have passed away and are awaiting Heaven in Purgatory. This ancient holiday spread throughout the Mediterranean and from there the rest of Christendom and making its way to the New World. As the centuries have passed each culture embraced and added its own uniqueness to the celebrations such as dressing up with skeletons from France – the dance macabre. Or going house to house like in old England for a sweet treat – poor Christians would go door to door asking for a Soul Cake (a cake type donut) and offering prayers for the deceased of those giving the charity. Lots of these ancient traditions can still be seen in some sense even in America’s modern celebration of the holiday.
In the Hispanic culture this holiday has had a very powerful impact with extravagant and deep traditional celebrations. Such as alters set up as memorials for loved ones passed away, grand processions, large family meals eaten at the cemetery & graveside of loved ones, and many more traditions. For me this celebration means Mass, a visit to the cemetery grave of my dad and other loved ones, huge feasts celebrating life and the lives of those I love who have passed on.
Foods to Enjoy
There’s an old story involving donuts and the Hallowtide Holiday. In England an old tradition was the Soul Cake door to door exchange and these were basically small sweet cake like fritters and some medieval chef wanting to help remind people of the focus on eternity decided to punch a hole in the dough to make a circle and from this we get our modern donuts. So I always make it a point on these days to stop and get A donut and a freshly brewed coffee in the mornings. It is from the same ancient traditions that we get a lot of the focus on sweets. I, myself, I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth My tastes tend to focus more towards savory – I love onion, garlic & spice type flavors. As such the donut in the morning tends to keep me satisfied but some other traditional sweets would be skull candies, candied apples & fruits. While I am not a candy fan I just might be tempted to enjoy a little glass of port or marsala or other sweet wine after dinner.
Traditional Glazed Donut Recipe
- 1 tbs. plus 1 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
- 1 cup Organic Whole Milk, heated to 110°F
- 2.5 cups Organic Bread Flour
- 1 tsp. pure Vanilla Extract
- 3 Egg Yolks, free-range, large
- 2 tbs. superfine sugar
- 0.5 tsp. salt
- 4 tbs. Kerrygold Butter, unsalted, softened at room temperature and cut into cubes
- Vegetable oil for frying, Non-GMO or Organic
- Basic Sugar Glaze
- Chocolate Glaze
- In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the yeast with 3/4 cup of the warm milk and stir to dissolve the yeast. Add 3/4 cup of the flour and stir to create a smooth paste. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the flour mixture rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Once 30 minutes have passed, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining 1 teaspoon yeast with the remaining 1/4 cup milk (the milk will be room temperature at this point). Add the rested flour mixture along with the vanilla and egg yolks and mix on low until the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is smooth, about 30 seconds. Turn off the mixer and add 1 cup of flour, along with the sugar and salt. Mix on medium until the dough starts to come together, about 30 seconds. Add the butter and mix on medium until it’s incorporated, about 30 seconds.
- Remove the paddle attachment from the mixer, and switch to the dough hook. Start adding the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time (turning the mixer off for each addition) and knead the dough on medium until it completely pulls away from the side of the bowl and is smooth and not too sticky, about 1 minute. The dough will be very soft and moist but not so sticky that you can’t roll it out. (For this step, you may only need to use as little as 1/4 cup flour, so there may be flour leftover.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Once 30 minutes have passed, gently press down on the dough to remove any gas bubbles then chill, covered, for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.
- When ready to roll out the dough, line a baking sheet with a lightly floured non-terry towel. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Using doughnut or cookie cutters, cut out 3-inch-diameter rounds with 1-inch-diameter holes. (For filled doughnuts, don’t cut out the holes.) Arrange the doughnuts on the prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 1 inch between doughnuts. Cover the doughnuts loosely with plastic wrap and let them proof in a warm place until almost doubled in size, 30 to 40 minutes. Check to see if the doughnuts are ready every 5 to 10 minutes. To test, use a fingertip to lightly touch one of the doughnuts. If the dough springs back immediately, it needs more time; if it springs back slowly, it’s ready; and if the dough doesn’t spring back at all, it’s over-proofed. You can punch down and reroll over-proofed dough once.
- While the doughnuts are proofing, line a baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels and place a wire rack on top of the towels. In a heavy-bottomed large pot or deep fryer, heat at least 2 inches of oil until a deep-fry thermometer registers 360°F. Working in batches, use a slotted metal spoon or spatula to carefully place the doughnuts in the hot oil. Fry, flipping once, until light golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer as done to the wire rack and return the oil to 360°F between batches. Let the doughnuts cool slightly before glazing with the Basic Sugar Glaze or Chocolate Glaze .
Some Dessert Wines I Enjoy:
So enjoy good food & good wine, cherish those around you and remember those that have gone before you. I wish everyone a Happy Halloween, a Happy All Saints Day, a Happy All Souls Day and remember the point of these days is to celebrate life. The life of loved ones that have moved on, for they live on in spirit, and the hope that someday we may be reunited; they never really die as long as we remember them.