Monday, 6 November 2017
Rock on, Tommy with Emma’s Rock Buns
Rock Buns or Cakes are that curious relative of scones, similar in appearance and sharing the key ingredient of dried fruit. Originally designed as a teatime treat, they proved popular because the ingredients were fairly cheap to buy. The ‘rock’ refers to their rough surface rather than the texture.
They were loved by soldiers in World War 1 amongst other recipes from the Home Front and promoted by the Ministry of Food in World War 2 days of rationing, as they could be made with reduced sugar and fewer eggs than other bakes.
Many families had their own Rock Buns or Rock Cakes recipe and ours was no exception. It was my Grandma’s sister, Emma who provided the trusted family recipe for Rock Buns. It was her signature bake!
Emma, Jim, cousin baby Elaine and me
My great aunt Emma, seen here with her husband, Jim in their garden had a recipe for Coconut Rock Buns where 4oz/110g desiccated coconut replaced the dried fruit. I remember eating these and Rock Buns during the 1950s when we stayed with at her home in Manchester every summer holiday.
12oz/340g plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
4oz/110g butter or lard
Pinch of salt
4oz/110g currants or raisins
1 teacupful of milk
Sieve the baking powder with the flour. Rub the fat into flour and salt then add the sugar and the fruit. Beat the eggs and add these to the mixture with the milk. Mix well. Put on a greased tin or on greased baking sheets and shape into small rocky heaps with two forks. Bake for 20 minutes in a fairly hot oven. (400F, Mark 6, 200C)
Rock Buns been around since at least Victorian times. They feature in Mrs Beeton’s Everyday Cookery and Housekeeping book 1861 and The Best Way cookery book 1907, not forgetting their starring role in the station tearoom in the 1945 film 'Brief Encounter''.
Back in World War 1, Rock on, Tommy - but is it a bun or a cake?