Updated date:

Easy Recipe for Gluten-Free Rock Cakes (Rock Buns)

Alison and her daughter both live gluten-free and have spent a lot of time perfecting some delicious GF versions of family favorites!

Another batch of delicious gluten-free rock cakes, straight out of the oven!

Another batch of delicious gluten-free rock cakes, straight out of the oven!

If you need to follow a gluten-free diet, you may have found it more difficult recently to find your favorite sweet treats in stores due to shortages resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Many of us are having to turn to store cupboard ingredients and baking at home in these difficult times.

Even if you have not done much gluten-free baking in the past, the recipe for my rock cakes (or rock buns as they are also called) is very easy and requires only a few ingredients. So, if you have some flour, eggs, sugar, butter (or margarine) and a little dried fruit, why not have a go at these for a tasty treat with morning coffee or afternoon tea?

This recipe has taken a few tries to perfect but they are now a family favorite. I have also provided instructions for a chocolate chip and dried cranberry variation. Please try my recipe and share your comments and any suggestions you may have for variations.

What Are Rock Cakes?

Rock cakes, or rock buns as they are also called, got their name because they do resemble rocks! The dried fruit in the mix and the method of baking combine to give the cakes a rough, outer surface that bears a strong resemblance to a rock!

The rock cakes made by Hagrid in the Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, by J. K. Rowling, really were as hard as rocks, causing Harry to almost break his tooth when trying one. Unlike Hagrid's version, my cakes are crisp on the outside and moist on the inside.

In the UK, these cakes were advocated by the Ministry of Food during World War II. During the strict, wartime food rationing, these cakes helped the ration of eggs and sugar go further as they need less of these two ingredients than (for example), a sponge cake.

I like lots of sugar sprinkled on my rock cakes!

I like lots of sugar sprinkled on my rock cakes!

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

20 min

35 min

10 to 12 cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups / 8 ounces / 225 grams gluten-free self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup / 4 ounces / 115 grams unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup / 3 ounces / 85 grams caster sugar
  • 5/8 cup / 3 ounces / 85 grams dried fruit mix
  • 2 tablespoons / 30 milliliters milk
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 large egg

Note About Measurements: I have listed all ingredients with the option to use your preferred unit of measurement, so please use either cups, ounces or grams.

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C (Gas Mark 4) or for a fan oven 160C (Gas Mark 3).
  2. Line a baking tray with baking parchment or grease-proof paper. It is not necessary to grease the paper.
  3. Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl rub in the butter to get a fine, 'breadcrumb' consistency.
  4. Add the dried fruit and mix in with a fork.
  5. Mix the caster sugar and mixed spice together in a separate bowl before adding to the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix well with a fork. Note: Increase or decrease the amount of mixed spice according to your taste and preference.
  6. In a separate bowl or jug, beat the egg with the milk.
  7. Make a well in the centre of the flour/butter/sugar/spice mixture and pour in most of the milk and egg mixture, reserving a very small amount for brushing the top of each cake at step 9 (below). Mix well.
  8. Spoon out 10 to 12 even-sized dollops of the mixture, placing each on the prepared baking tray, evenly spread out. A useful tip is to use a wetted ice cream scoop to do this as it helps to get an even amount each time.
  9. Brush the top of each cake with a small amount of the milk and egg mixture and sprinkle on caster sugar to taste.
  10. Place the baking tray above the centre of your pre-heated oven and bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
  11. Allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Once cool, the cakes can be stored in an airtight tin for 3 to 4 days. Alternatively, freeze in a suitable container on the day of baking. These freeze well.
Uncooked rock cakes spaced out on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Ready for the oven.

Uncooked rock cakes spaced out on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Ready for the oven.

Recipe Rating

After baking, leave the cakes on the baking tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

After baking, leave the cakes on the baking tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Variations on the Basic Recipe

There are a few variations that you can use to ring the changes when using the basic recipe above:

  • Spices: Leave out the mixed spice and, instead of sprinkling the cakes with just caster sugar before baking, add about half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder to the sugar (or more according to taste) and sprinkle the mixture of sugar and cinnamon on instead.
  • Vanilla: Replace the mixed spice with a teaspoon of vanilla paste or slightly more vanilla extract. Do not add this with the dry ingredients, but beat it into the egg and milk mixture instead.
  • Dried cranberries and chocolate chips: Replace the mixed spice with vanilla as in variation 2 (above) and replace the dried fruit with a mixture of dried cranberries and chocolate chips (use white, milk or dark according to taste). For my recipe, you will need 1/2 cup / 2 oz/ 60 g dried cranberries and 1/2 cup / 3 oz / 90 g of chocolate chips.

Please Get in Touch

Please let me know how you got on with making my gluten-free rock cake recipe. You can rate the recipe with the star rating above, leave me a comment below, or use the 'contact the author' link right at the top of the page. It would be lovely to hear from you and to learn what your favorite recipe variation is.

© 2020 Alison Graham

Comments

Alison Graham (author) from UK on April 13, 2020:

Thank you Jo, the reason that I mentioned the Coronavirus Pandemic in this article on making rock cakes and on another article with my recipe for gluten free scones, is that store-bought GF goods are in short supply so it is good to have a couple of easy recipes to make a batch of at home. Yes we are all on lock-down here in the UK too -- and with no end in sight! My daughter and I need to avoid gluten completely so our options are limited at the moment, unless we bake at home.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on April 11, 2020:

Hi, Alison. I have not been very active here in a while but trying get away the gruesome news here in the US for a while and decided to come here to read some articles. And, wouldn't you know it, the first two articles I read, from two countries tennot the US, mention the pandemic. I guess it's affecting all of us. Still enjoyed your recipe, though. Looks like one I might try--without the gluten free approach. We tried that for awhile but did not get very good results.

Alison Graham (author) from UK on April 06, 2020:

Thank you Mitara, hope you and your family enjoy these cakes.

Alison Graham (author) from UK on April 06, 2020:

Hi Doris, many thanks for leaving a comment on my gluten free rock cakes recipe. In the variations, I have a version for choc chip and dried cranberry. Perhaps you could adapt this and make a choc chip and raisin version. It is difficult not to be able to just go to the grocery store to pick up anything we have run out of, whenever we like. I look forward to hearing how you get on.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on April 05, 2020:

Allison, I am always glad to find a gluten-free bread/cookie/cake recipe that has been tested by an experienced GF baker. Getting a GF baking recipe to come out evenly baked can be a real trick. I really want to try these, but all the fruit I have right now are raisins and chocolate chips, and of course, we are told not to go grocery shopping unless we have to. I will let you know later how mine turn out after I brave the store.

Mitara N from South Africa on April 05, 2020:

Looks delicious, will definitely try

Thanks for sharing