Rock Cakes Recipe


Chunky hard fruity buns.



Sultanas &/or raisins 200 g
Margarine 100 g
Moist brown sugar 75 g
Self raising flour 200 g
Egg (chicken) 1
Red glacé cherries (optional)4-5
Milk to moisten (optional)up to 2 if needed


Oven. Mixing bowl. Knife to mix with. Scales (or just estimate). Baking sheet. Baking paper (or reusable equivalent).

Detailed Instructions

  1. Turn on oven to warm up to 200°C (Gas Mark 6).
  2. Rub the 100 g of margarine into the 200 g of flour in mixing bowl (i.e. repeatedly pick up handfuls of the mix & use thumbs to smear it out across fingers) until the mix looks like breadcrumbs.
  3. Wash hands (before everything else in the kitchen gets greasy).
  4. Mix in all the other ingredients (75 g moist brown sugar, 200 g sultanas &/or raisins, an egg (minus shell) &, if desired, mixed spice).
  5. If the mix is too dry to make balls (e.g. because the egg was small) the a little milk can be added to moisten the mix.
  6. Line baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  7. Put balls of the mix on the tray. For small buffet buns, balls about 4 cm diameter will typically expand/flatten to about 7 cm diameter rounds and there is enough mix for about 15-20. For a more traditional size bun, balls about 6 cm diameter will typically make about 8-10 buns about 10 cm across.
  8. If using glacé cherries:
    1. Cut them into halves (for traditional size buns) or quarters (for small buns).
    2. Seat one piece firmly on the top centre of each bun with the cut face downwards.
  9. Bake 15 to 25 min (ready when inside no longer looks raw & damp &/or a skewer pushed into a cake does not come out with stuck on dough).
  10. Allow to cool until hard.

Alternatives to the Sultanas or Raisins

The recipe easily makes several other cakes, some of which taste & feel substantially different, by replacing the sultanas/raisins with something else. For example:



Family recipe dating back at least to my grandmother & probably earlier.

Although I used to make them as my mother had using white sugar in it, I once ran out of white when making it, used moist brown and found it tasted better. I mentioned it to her and was told that what I had accidentally rediscovered was her mother's recipe that had been reduced to white sugar by her to save money. The raisin improvement I likewise found out when my local supermarket ran out of sultanas. The chocolate drops alternative was suggested to me by a reader of this site who had likewise run out sultanas & raisins but had chocolate drops and found they worked too. The lemon curd, apple & coconut options were also suggested by visitors to this site. Hence if you don't have one of the ingredients, try substituting (with something safe to eat) and see what the result is; it could well be an improvement!

The milk I did not know about until another reader of mentioned that their family used to include milk. I asked my mother and she revealed that her mother's recipe had "add up to 1 dsp milk if the egg is small" which she had ignored (I assume as egg sizes in the UK had been standardised by the 1970s) so I added that milk as an option to my recipe.

Similarly I did not know about the mixed spice until a reader mentioned it. I asked my mother and she told me that the recipe had mixed spice when she got but she removed the mixed spice because my father did not like the stuff.

My mother's original recipe had the traditional glacé cherries but I dropped those from it as I did not much like them. However some people, especially older, expect a rock cake to be topped with a glacé cherry so I put them back in as an option. Whether a full or a half cherry is most traditional is debatable (if one is very pedantic :-) ) but my mother used half ones to reduce costs. For small buns I halved it again to a quarter to stop the cherry dominating the appearance.