Traditional Rock Cakes Recipe

You might have heard of Rock Buns or Rock Cakes because they were a common treat as a child, or you might have heard of them because they are a favourite of Hagrid and feature no less than three times in Harry Potter.

Either way, these delicious and simple little scone-like cakes are a recipe that we’re excited to share!

Traditional Rock Buns Recipe - British Rock Buns

Scroll to the end or use the table of contents to be taken straight to the Printable Recipe Card.

The origin of Rock Cakes is somewhat elusive. They’re definitely British in origin, but where, when, and how exactly they came to be is something that doesn’t seem to be well-known.

Rock Buns or Rock Cakes are a popular tea-time treat that have existed since at least Victorian times.

They were also actively promoted by the Ministry of Food during WWII thanks to most Rock Cake recipes using fewer eggs and sugar than a traditional cake.

Why are they called Rock Cakes?

What’s with the name? Well, they’re said to resemble a small rock, as they’re rough in shape. But don’t let that put you off!

Traditional Rock Buns Recipe - British Rock Buns

What are Rock Cakes, exactly?

Rock Buns or Cakes are light and crumbly and a bit like scones, with the process of making them starting off in a very similar way.

The good thing is they also use ingredients that we tend to have in the cupboard already or can easily substitute, so they’re an easy one to whip up on a whim.

Rock Cakes are best eaten warm straight from the oven, and don’t need anything additional, like jam or cream. You can eat them for the next day or two if they’re kept in an airtight container.

Although apparently, Hagrid baked them rather too long and kept them for a week… which would definitely make them rock hard!

Most recipes have a combination of flour, sugar, butter, egg, milk, and then mixed dried fruit that could include currants, raisins, and peel. Some also have a pinch of nutmeg or mixed spice, although we omitted that from ours.

This recipe is such a classic, and we’re glad to add it to our list alongside other traditional favourites like Old School Cake, Cornflake Tart, and Beef Olives!

If you want to try something similar to Rock Cakes, then try our easy Paris Buns recipe here.

Pin for later!

Traditional Rock Buns Recipe - British Rock Cakes Recipe

Things you’ll need to make Rock Cakes

  • Large Bowl
  • Sifter
  • Baking Tray
  • Wooden or metal spoon for mixing
  • Pastry cutter to help with mixing the flour and butter
  • Large tablespoon or two forks for arranging on the baking tray
Traditional Rock Buns Recipe - British Rock Buns

Ingredients for Rock Cakes

  • 250g (1.5 Cups + 1tbsp) Self Raising Flour
  • 100g (3oz) Butter
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 50g (1 Cup) Granulated Sugar
  • 150g (1 Cup) Mixed Dried Fruit (Raisins/Currants/Peel)
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1-2 tbsp Milk
  • 1 tsp Mixed Spice* optional

Mixed Spice

Mixed Spice in the UK is similar to Pumpkin Spice in the United States, with cinnamon being the most dominant flavour, followed by nutmeg and allspice.

It is a nice addition to a Rock Cakes recipe but can also be omitted if you’re not a fan.

Traditional Rock Buns Recipe - British Rock Buns

How to make Rock Cakes – Step by step method

Preheat the oven to 190C/160C Fan or 370F/320F Fan.

Grease a baking tray with butter or use baking paper.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl.

Cut the butter into cubes and then rub it into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. It’s easiest to do this if it’s cold, but not too hard.

If it’s really hard, you can grate the butter in, then rub it with your fingertips. Like scones, you should handle as little as you can so the heat from your hands doesn’t melt the butter.

We sometimes use a pastry cutter tool like this to speed things up and cut it down to much smaller chunks with minimal handling.

Stir in the fruit and sugar, and mixed spice, if using.

Beat together the egg and 1 tbsp of milk and add to the mixture. If it’s too dry, you can add the other tbsp of milk. It should be a stiff dough.

To put on the baking tray either drop a heaped tablespoon of the mixture from a spoon or use two forks to shake into a rough ball and put on the tray.

Bake 12-15 minutes until they start to turn pale golden brown at the rough edges.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack when they’re cool enough to touch. You can sprinkle with a little sugar before they are fully cool if you like, but we think they’re great as they are.

Enjoy! They are best eaten while still a little warm or within the next day or so.

Traditional Rock Buns Recipe - British Rock Buns

Variations

Mixed Dried Fruit

We like to use Mixed Dried Fruit which comes in a bag from the supermarket, with a mixture of raisins, currants and fruit peel. However, you could just use raisins or currants, or whatever you like, really!

Chocolate Rock Cakes

It’s also possible to make Chocolate Rock Cakes by replacing 30g (1/4 cup) of flour with cocoa and the mixed peal with small chocolate chips.

You could also just replace the mixed fruit with chocolate chips if you want to make it with kids, and they’re keener on those!

Traditional Rock Buns Recipe - British Rock Buns

How long do Rock Cakes last?

Rock Cakes are definitely best eaten warm from the oven, but if you want to keep them, then you can put them in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

You can also store them in the freezer for up to 3 months, preferably wrapped in foil or clingfilm and in a ziplock bag or airtight container.

Defrost in the fridge overnight or reheat at a low oven temperature. You can remove them one at a time or defrost them all!

How are Rock Cakes different to Scones?

Rock Cake or Rock Bun dough is stiffer than Scone dough and is handled a bit more.

Rock Cakes are smaller and dropped onto the baking tray by the tablespoon or formed roughly with two forks, whereas scones are rolled/patted out and cut into shape.

We love both! You can find my Grandma’s scone recipe here. She has won awards!

Traditional Rock Cakes Printable Recipe Card

Yield: 12

Traditional Rock Cake Recipe

Traditional Rock Buns Recipe

Rock Cakes are British in origin, but where, when, and how exactly they came to be is something that doesn’t seem to be well-known.

They’re a popular tea-time treat, and seem to have been around since at least Victorian times. They were also actively promoted by the Ministry of Food during WWII thanks to most Rock Cake recipes using fewer eggs and sugar than a traditional cake.

What’s with the name? Well, they’re said to resemble a small rock, as they’re rough in shape. But don’t let that put you off!

Rock Buns or Cakes are light and crumbly and a bit like scones, with the process of making them starting off in a very similar way.

The good thing is they also use ingredients that we tend to have in the cupboard already or can easily substitute, so they’re an easy one to whip up on a whim.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 250g (1.5 + 1 tbsp Cups) Self Raising Flour
  • 100g (3oz) Butter
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 50g (1 Cup) Granulated Sugar
  • 150g (1 Cup) Mixed Dried Fruit (Raisins/Currants/Peel)
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1-2 tbsp Milk
  • 1 tsp Mixed Spice* optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/160C Fan or 370F/320F Fan.
  2. Grease a baking tray with butter or use baking paper.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl.
  4. Cut the butter into cubes and then rub it into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. It’s easiest to do this if it’s cold, but not too hard. If it’s really hard you can grate the butter in then rub. Like scones, you should handle as little as you can so the heat from your hands doesn’t melt the butter.
  5. Stir in the fruit and sugar, and mixed spice, if using.
  6. Beat together the egg and 1 tbsp of milk and add to the mixture. If it’s too dry you can add the other tbsp of milk. It should be a stiff dough.
  7. To put on the baking tray either drop a heaped tablespoon of the mixture from a spoon or use two forks to shake into a rough ball and put on the tray.
  8. Bake 12-15 minutes until they start to turn pale golden brown at the rough edges.
  9. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack when they’re cool enough to touch. You can sprinkle with a little sugar before they are fully cool if you like, but we think they’re great as they are.
  10. Enjoy! They are best eaten while still a little warm or within the next day or so.

Notes

Mixed Spice

Mixed Spice in the UK is similar to Pumpkin Spice is the United States, with cinnamon being the most dominant flavour, followed by nutmeg and allspice. It is a nice addition to a Rock Cakes recipe but can also be omitted if you’re not a fan.

Mixed Dried Fruit

We like to use Mixed Dried Fruit which comes in a bag from the supermarket with a mixture of raisins, currants and fruit peel. However, you could just use raisins or currants, or whatever you like really!

Chocolate Rock Cakes

It’s also possible to make Chocolate Rock Cakes by replacing 30g (1/4 cup) of flour with cocoa and the mixed peal with small chocolate chips. You could also just replace the mixed fruit with chocolate chips if you want to make with kids and they’re keener on those!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 188Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 393mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 2gSugar: 11gProtein: 3g

This information is an indication only.

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4 thoughts on “Traditional Rock Cakes Recipe”

  1. Penzey’s Spice in the US has a couple of very nice mixed spice combinations. I’ve used the cake ones and love the baking one. They have shops around the country, and you can order online.

    Reply
  2. Hello sonja and Phil
    Well where can I start, I’ve not made these rock cakes before only heard of its name that my little nephew who made it for my sister. I can across yours recipe and I made it and they didn’t last it was gone with in few hours lol. Thank you for lovely recipe well be making them again. It was yummmmmy my husband also enjoyed them. Its nice to see your pic with the little one. Lovely family too.
    I want to try the biscoff off but will use the kids to see what they think. Maybe chocolate chip.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much! We’re so pleased you like it and love the idea of adding chocolate chips. We might do that next too!

      Reply
  3. Hello, can you please check the conversions from grams to cups? 1 cup of self-raising flour is about 125 g and 1 cup granulated sugar is about 200 g. These don’t align with what you’ve included and, by following the cup measurements, the result would be quite different from with the measurements in grams. Thank you!

    Reply

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