Traditional Rock Cakes

Easy traditional rock cake recipe

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
168 Calories
9g Fat
18g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 168
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 11%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 76mg 25%
Sodium 398mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Protein 4g
Calcium 75mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Despite the name that seems a little uninviting, rock cakes are simply the easiest British baked good to make, and they're delicious, too.

Named for their shape and pebbly-looking surface, they are also known as rock buns, depending on where you live in the United Kingdom. They were especially popular during World War II because they required less sugar and fewer eggs than traditional cake recipes; they were a good baking project during rationing.

Rock cakes are made from a simple dough made of self-rising flour, baking powder, butter, sugar, milk, and egg is studded with dried fruit, rolled into balls, and baked. Sometimes oatmeal is added.

Children enjoying getting their hands doughy and shaping the cakes, and may like that they're one of Harry Potter's favorite treats.

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Ingredients

  • 8 ounces/225 grams self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup/110 grams butter (soft)
  • 1/4 cup/55 grams sugar
  • 1/2 cup/110 grams mixed dried fruit
  • 6 tablespoons/55 grams currants
  • 1 egg
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons milk
  • Optional: demerara sugar for sprinkling

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for rock cake
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C. Lightly grease two baking sheets.

    Lightly grease baking sheets
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.

    Sift flour
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Add the softened butter and lightly rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

    Add softened butter
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Add the sugar and dried fruit and mix so all ingredients are well incorporated.

    Add sugar and dried heat
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  6. Add the egg and 1 tablespoon of the milk and mix to create a stiff dough. If the mixture is still dry, add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the correct consistency is reached.

    Add the egg
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  7. Using a tablespoon, divide the mixture into 12 mounds and space evenly on the baking sheets. Sprinkle with demerara sugar, if using.

    Divide mixture
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown and well risen. The rock cakes should be firm to the touch; they will harden once cooled. Enjoy!

    Rock cake
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

What's the Difference Between Rock Cakes and Scones?

Rock cakes definitely look like scones, but these two baked goods are different. Rock cake dough is stiffer, and the cakes are smaller, rolled into balls, and dropped like a cookie onto a baking sheet. Scone dough is gently patted or rolled out and then cut into shape before baking, which takes place at a higher temperature than rock cakes.

Recipe Variations

  • Dried cranberries make a good addition, as do a few chopped nuts, a teaspoon of honey, or some chocolate chips.
  • You can also add a teaspoon of what the British call mixed spice; the closest substitute would be pumpkin pie spice.
  • Try adding the zest of a lemon, lime, or orange to brighten the flavor.

How to Store Rock Cakes

  • Rock cakes will keep up to 3 days if well wrapped in foil or in an airtight container.
  • You can freeze them as you would scones for up to 3 months, wrapped in foil and stored in a zipper-topped freezer bag. Reheat in a low oven or defrost in the refrigerator overnight.