Bank Holiday Monday is upon us, and I’m keen to get you all baking… especially across the Pond, because it was brought to my attention the other day that Americans don’t have rock buns. Is this true? Or were my sources (one American and one Canadian) wrong? The rock bun – also known as the rock cake – is one of my favourite sweet things, and is the taste of summer for me. Our Vicar’s Wife always made them in the summer holidays, you see. They look very simple – certainly couldn’t be made to look fancy, however hard you tried – but have the most wonderful taste, a combination of flavours that I think is hard to beat.
I know a lot of my blog readers are much better bakers than me, so bear with me if you make these blind-folded everyday. As usual, with my recipes, I’m going to go back to basics – just so nobody is left behind.
With this recipe, you might well not have all the ingredients in the cupboard (see above) – especially if you don’t bake that often – but PLEASE, I encourage you to go and get them, because rock buns are quick, really easy, and should be a staple in every kitchen, especially if you have children. And this is one where you can’t miss out the different flavours – they all need to be in there. Here goes… (I should add that I’ve used this website to work out cup measurements – hope they’re right!)
1.) Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6, and grease two baking trays. As I said last recipe, nobody EVER does this first, but… well, the option’s there.
2.) Mix together 225g/8oz/1.75 cups of self-raising flour and a pinch of salt – and the Secret Ingredient. Well, it’s not secret – but neither is it in the recipe book I have. Our Vicar’s Wife uses this, and I think any rock bun without it would be sub-standard and barely worth eating! Ahem. Here it is:
3.) Rub in 100g/4oz/half a cup of margarine – which does mean getting your hands messy, I’m afraid. You can try doing this with a wooden spoon, but it really won’t work quite the same. Keep going until it’s this sort of texture:
4.) Add in 50g/2oz/a quarter of a cup of demerara sugar, mixed peel, and currants. Wikipedia tells me that in the US demerara sugar is known as ‘turbinado sugar’, which I think is a hilarious name… The recipe can be done with regular caster sugar (which Wikipedia – isn’t it useful? – tells me is ‘superfine sugar’ in the US) but demerara makes it *that* much yummier. Basically, use a brown sugar, crunchy if possible, but anything else you can lay your hands on will do.
I haven’t given quantities for mixed peel and currants (you can use mixed fruit, if you can find bags of it, but sometimes these bags include cherries, and they wouldn’t work at all) – it’s very much to taste. Maybe a tablespoon of mixed peel, and two or three of currants? But it’s definitely better to have too much of these than two little. Don’t skimp on them! Oh, and I do hope tubs of mixed peel are available outside the UK…?
5.) Mix it to a stiff dough with an egg. You’ll need to use your hands again – doing it with a spoon won’t get the mixture to come together. You can add milk, if it won’t make a dough with just an egg, but you shouldn’t have to. It should look a bit like this…