Rock Cakes

Rock Cakes

Something happened at the beginning of this week that reminded me how quickly things can change. A photograph of my Nan popped up on my Instagram stories from this time last year. Instantly my heart filled with love looking at her face and then the tears started to swell. This time last year my Nanny was taking part in the Remembrance Sunday parade in Sidmouth as one of the oldest participants. Scroll forward a year and she is no longer with us. Nanny passed away at the beginning of September after struggling to recover from hip replacement surgery. My heart is still broken thinking about her and it will take a long time to heal I am sure. I think about her every day and wish she was still here.

This post coincides with what would have been my Nanny’s 95th birthday so I wanted to mark the occasion with something that sparks a memory in me and actually seemed very apt for this time of year and the photographs above.

Rock cakes (or rock buns) have been around for a long time as a teatime treat but really came to the fore during the Second World War when the Ministry of Food promoted rock cakes because the recipe uses fewer eggs and less sugar than regular cake recipes, an important saving in times of extreme rationing. I am guessing that my Nan learnt the recipe during the war and carried on making them long after. I remember her making them when my sisters and I were growing up quite regularly, even allowing us to take part in the process as rock cakes are incredibly easy to make.

Rock cakes have cropped up in many popular culture stories over the years too. My favourite author Agatha Christie mentions them in numerous books and Hagrid serves rock cakes to Harry and Ron in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. They obviously have very good taste just like my Nan!

My nanny was never an amazing cook but there are a few things she did superbly. Her macaroni cheese, bulgar wheat salad, fruit cake and rock buns are four that stand out instantly. I am sure my sisters have their favourites too. Maybe I should create a series of recipes in her honour on Tara’s Busy Kitchen & Other Stories?

Rock Cakes
Serves 12
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Total Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. 225g/8oz self-raising flour
  2. 75g/2.5oz caster sugar
  3. 1tsp baking powder
  4. 125g/4.5oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  5. 150g/5.5oz dried fruit
  6. 1 egg
  7. 1tbsp milk
  8. 2tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat your oven to 180C/Gas 4. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together. Add cubed butter and rub together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add in the dried fruit and mix.
  3. In a separate bowl beat the egg, vanilla and milk together. Add to the dry ingredients and mix to combine with a spoon. If the mixture feels too dry and a teaspoon more milk so the mixture comes together. It should resemble a thick, lumpy dough.
  4. Using a spoon place golf ball sized amounts on your pre-prepared baking sheet. You should make 12 out of the dough.leave a space between them as the mixture will spread on baking.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool for a minute or two before turning out on a wire rack to cool.
  6. Serve slightly warm with a cup of tea.
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