Traditional Rock Cakes

Lightly browned rock cakes studded with raisins on a plate and on a wire cooling rack

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
190 Calories
8g Fat
27g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 190
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 11%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 36mg 12%
Sodium 277mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 102mg 8%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 135mg 3%
*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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"These delicious little sweet biscuits are very fast and easy to make, and work with any dried fruit you have on hand. I loved the delicate, sandy texture. I used dried blueberries, cranberries, and cherries, along with the currants. Next time I'll be sure to add lemon zest for a bright note." —Danielle Centoni

Traditional Rock Cake Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 8 ounces (225 grams) self-rising flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

  • 1/4 cup (55 grams) sugar

  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) mixed dried fruit

  • 6 tablespoons (55 grams) currants

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 to 3 tablespoons milk

  • Demerara sugar, for sprinkling, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for rock cake recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C. Lightly grease two baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

    Lightly greased rimmed baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.

    Flour being sifted with a metal wire mesh sieve into a large bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Add the softened butter and lightly rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

    Flour and softened butter rubbed together to a sandy consistency

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Add the sugar and dried fruit and mix so all ingredients are well incorporated.

    Sugar and dried fruit being stirred into sandy flour mixture with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Make a well in the center of the mixture, add the egg and 1 tablespoon of the milk, and whisk with a fork to combine. Mix the dry ingredients into the egg mixture to create a stiff dough. If the mixture is still dry, add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough holds together.

    Stiff dough holding together after egg and milk being added

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Divide the mixture into 12 mounds (about 1/4 cup each) and space evenly on the baking sheets. Sprinkle with demerara sugar, if using.

    Dough shaped into mounds of equal size and placed at even space on baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / 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. Enjoy!

    Lightly browned baked rock cakes with slightly cracked tops on baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

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.

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.