Rock Cakes Recipe
Chunky hard fruity buns.
- Rub margarine into flour.
- Add sugar, fruit & egg (shell removed).
- Takes approximately: 10 min work, 20 min cooking, 50 min
- Makes about 15-20 buns if small buffet size, 8-10 traditional size or fewer if larger.
|Sultanas &/or raisins
|Moist brown sugar
|Self raising flour
|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).
- Turn on oven to warm up to 200°C (Gas Mark 6).
- 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
- Wash hands (before everything else in the kitchen gets greasy).
- Mix in all the other ingredients (75 g moist brown sugar,
200 g sultanas &/or raisins, an egg (minus shell) &, if
desired, mixed spice).
- 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.
- Line baking tray with greaseproof paper.
- 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.
- If using glacé cherries:
- Cut them into halves (for traditional size buns) or quarters (for small buns).
- Seat one piece firmly on the top centre of each bun with the cut face downwards.
- 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).
- 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
- Some other moist dried fruit. (Drier ones, like small hard currants, are not good as they make the cakes feel gritty.)
curd. This makes a moist cake with, if the lemon curd is only roughly
mixed in, succulent inclusions of runny sweet lemon filling. Alternatively add more flour to stop it being runny.
- Chocolate chips. The result is rather like a hard version of a choc chip muffin.
- Chopped apple & powdered cinnamon. The result is rather like an apple scone.
- Dessicated coconut. Very dry and tastes rather like a coconut macaroon but without the sweetness.
little cocoa powder. Makes it dark brown (with lighter yellow speckle
if not totally mixed in, it being difficult to mix in a powder
unless added at the flour stage). I've used this, shaped by piping
thickly from a plastic bag with a corner cut off, as the basis of joke
'turd' cakes for a Hallowe'en party. I decorated them with edible
imitation flies (raisins for the bodies horizontally transfixed by
longitudinally halved almond flakes as pairs of wings) on cocktail
- They can also be made with cheaper white sugar but will, of course, be less
- The original recipe used half as much fruit which is cheaper but, of
course, less fruity.
prefer raisins but sultanas are usually cheaper.
- They can be topped with coarse-grain sugar &/or a (optionally halved) a
glace cherry each (but I prefer them without). The glace cherry is a fashion that feels very 1970s to me but is probably
is not very sticky so cheaper greaseproof paper (which is intended for
wrapping rather than as non-stick but often is reasonably non-stick
too) might be usable instead of baking paper.
tried, following a friend's suggestion, using an electric mixer instead
of rubbing in by hand. It did not work well. It took even longer than
by hand because it mainly threw the dry mixture about rather than
smearing it together. It was even messier than doing it by hand because
it sent up a fine cloud of flour that settled for metres around about
the kitchen. The result was very dry, needing considerable milk before
the mix would stick together in balls, because it did not mix below
levels of grains of flour coated fat about a quarter millimetre across
thereby wasting much of potential flour uptake ability of the fat and so leaving much unbound flour.
reader & another friend suggested using an electric blender instead
of a mixer & pulsing it in bursts of 10 s
or less. Unlike with the mixer this did actually work however with my
blender dry mixes tend to form a void over the blades requiring
frequent shaking or pushing down (not when the blender is powered up
& no with ones fingers!). Combined with cleaning the greasy blender
afterwards, it took as much effort as doing the job manually.
visitor to this site (crediting their Nanny Lil) has suggested using
well a Yorkshire pudding / cup cake (a.k.a fairy cake or muffin) baking
tray with the indentations well buttered (but no paper cases) as a way
of making the rock cakes neatly. I expect it would work but have not
yet tried it, not having such a tray to hand.
- My mother used to make them when I was a child with the white sugar
(financial limitations), reduced fruit (ditto), sultanas (ditto) and a half
(ditto) glace cherry on top.
- I've heard that 'chunky hard fruity buns' has an accidental double
entendre in the USA dialect of English. Sorry but this page is written in
the UK dialect of English so if you were looking for muscular buttocks you have
come to the wrong place; enjoy the cakes instead.
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
her mother's recipe that had been reduced to white sugar by her to save
The raisin improvement I likewise found out when my local supermarket
of sultanas. The chocolate drops alternative was suggested to me by a
this site who had likewise run out sultanas & raisins but had
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
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.
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.