Rock Cakes

Rock cakes are probably the biggest running joke of the baking world. As a result of their name they are assumed, mainly by children, to be extremely hard and rather inedible. However, there is a reason why they have become both popular and famous throughout the world; they are utterly delicious. In my mind, their rather unappetising name derives from the hardening process which occurs on the outside of the rock cake, as it cools. However, this change is only skin deep, as underneath the initially hard layer lies a light cakey texture, not unlike that found in the common scone.

There are a number of different rock cake recipes flitting about the internet, but only a few get it perfectly right. Many recipes add far too much sugar – these traditional treats shouldn’t be incredibly sweet, otherwise they’d be called rock biscuits. Strictly speaking the ratio of flour, butter and sugar should be 4:2:1-1.5, respectively. As with any traditional British recipe, there are international flavour variations. However, the basic recipe should always stay the same, since it creates the perfect consistency of rock cake. After all, the rock cake is defined by its consistency and hardening process. In fact, anyone found to have messed with the basic ratio of ingredients shall receive a rather sharp blow to the head. However, since my rock cakes adhere to the standard, this blow would not be sufficient to cause any damage or pain. I’ll leave the moral deciphering to you.

Rock Cakes

Makes 9-10

Ingredients:

• 200g plain flour, sifted

• 100g butter, at room temperature

• A pinch of salt

• 1½ tsp baking powder

• 75g sugar, golden caster is preferable

• ½ tsp ground cinnamon

• ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

• ½ tsp mixed spice

• 100g raisins or mixed dried fruit

• 1 egg

• 1-2 tbsp milk

Method:

1. Grease and line two baking trays, heat the oven to 200C. Rub the butter into the flour, salt and baking powder until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Tip in the sugar, spices and fruit and combine thoroughly. Finally, mix in the egg and bring it all together into a slightly wet, but firm dough.

2. Separate this dough into 9-10 lumps and place on the baking trays. Work the dough with a fork until each lump resembles a rock; one may need to half close one’s eyes to achieve this effect. Bake them for 15 minutes, until slightly browned. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Cost: As with most traditional British tea-time treats, these rock cakes are extremely cheap to produce. Indeed, the entire batch should come in at under £1.20 if one is particularly careful.

82 thoughts on “Rock Cakes

  1. spree

    Once again it’s demonstrated how ignorant I am! Sad to say, never heard of rock cakes before, so wouldn’t think of messing with the ratios! But any sort of sweetish thing that’s not loaded with sugar gets my vote for tea time! Nice, Nick!

  2. Amrita

    This is interesting because I’ve never heard of rock cakes. I’m loving the idea of a hard outer layer with soft insides, almost like chunky cookies (forgive me if this comparison is unacceptable :)).

  3. notesfromrumbleycottage

    Well, this explains something mentioned in Harry Potter during one of the visits to Hagrid’s hut. He offers the kids ‘rock cakes’ and they push them to the side. I assumed it was because the cookies were as hard as rocks, never realized it was a real name.

  4. Lisa Shozuya

    yum! these sound delicious! i love the density of things like this. in hawaii we have something called stone cookies and some variations remind me of what this looks like. i’m gonna try it!

  5. Shira

    I have never seen these before but they look super yummy and easy to make – have you ever tried with alternative flours? I might try them with a spelt flour instead. It will drive the price up a bit but wow, they are super simple as far as ingredients. Will let you know. Thanks!

  6. Razel Rull-Navarro

    I have to try this recipe. I used to make rock cakes for my husband and son. Hubby loves rock cakes coz like what you have said, they shouldn’t be too sweet…and he likes it that way :)

  7. Catherine

    Your timing is excellent! We’re doing Timon of Athens as our next Shakespeare and I was thinking that rock cakes were an absolute requirement (since rocks and water are what he feeds his unwelcome guests at the final feast). These look lovely.

  8. Shu Han

    you know what, I’ve never had a rock cake before, it’s a very british thing i must say. and yes i always assumed they were hard and not very delicious at all, but now I know better. your description of it, crispy on the outside and soft like a scone on the inside, makes me want to really try them now!

    it’s my first time at your blog, and i really like your emphasis on frugal food. i’m a student who wants to eat well, so alot of my food and recipes have to be cheap too(:

  9. Granny

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  10. Shumaila

    I only got acquainted with the term rock cakes during last month’s daring bakers’ challenge, where the host for the month, who is Australian, mentioned that rock cakes were similar to the American scones. But, you say they are slightly different. Is that so? Whatever the term these look great. I am getting a new interest in English baked goods, after eating at this Cornish Pasty place in Phoenix. I wanted to try my hand at Pasties. I think I am tempted to try these as well.

    1. frugalfeeding

      What is an American scone like? I can’t remember. They are a bit like a British scone… perhaps your Australian baker was a little mistaken? give them a go. Pasties are really fun to make – I shall try to do a recipe.

  11. Pingback: Weekend Highlights – Noteworthy Articles by Fellow Bloggers – Feb 18, 2012 « Granny's Parlour

  12. Vicky

    I made these but they turned out flatter than the picture and were not very crispy on the outside by the next day. I suspect I added too much milk tot he recipe so will try again this time with only just enough to bind it so they remain ‘rock like’.

  13. Emi

    Just my two cents. I have seen this post before and I am still drawn to it. I’m going to have to try this because I like not-so-sweet cookies to dip into my coffee in the morning.

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