If you grew up in Britain, then you surely remember rock buns?
This is a recipe that I remember from years ago. It’s got a bit of a retro feel to it, but that fits right in to all the traditional baking that we are (supposedly) doing these days. You can’t go out for a cup of tea in the afternoon these days without (metaphorically) tripping over flapjacks, coffee walnut cake, scones and the famous Victoria sponge. Rock buns are similarly traditional, straightforward, simple to make and rather comforting.
Rock buns are great for a number of reasons. Chances are that you’ve got all the ingredients in your store cupboard right now. Even if you don’t have them exactly, you can chop-and-change to some extent, using different types of sugar and different dried fruit. They are also an absolute doddle to make – you can do it all in 5 minutes, and they can be eaten warm from the oven or left to cool – perfect if you have guests coming at short notice. Also, if you like things spicy, you can add a dash of whatever takes your fancy – cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon or mixed spice (like this).
In terms of texture, they are a bit like a scone, although they have a lot more butter and less milk, so the texture is richer and crumbly. Great on their own, or spread with a little butter and jam while still warm.
The only thing you need to worry about is how they look. They are called rock buns for a reason – we are not aiming for a smooth surface. It should look rough, which is usually pretty easy to achieve. The look is further achieved by sprinkling with a little granulated sugar, so they sparkle a little bit like granite. Alright, this last stage might be stretching things a little bit far, but it does add a nice bit of extra crunch.
To make rock buns (makes 8):
• 200g self-raising flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• pinch of spice
• 100g butter
• 75g white caster sugar or soft brown sugar(*)
• 1 egg
• 2-3 tablespoons milk
• 75g sultanas (or other dried fruit)
• granulated sugar (to sprinkle)
Preheat the oven to 190°C (370°F). Grease a baking sheet.
In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and spice. Rub in the butter using your fingers. Add the sugar and mix well.
Add the egg plus enough milk to make a soft dough. It should be soft and a bit sticky, but not in any way runny. Finish by mixing in the fruit.
Form the dough into 8 buns, making sure they look rough enough (**). Place on the baking sheet and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Bake for 15 minutes. The buns are ready when they are golden, and an inserted cocktail stick comes out clean. Enjoy warm or cold.
(*) I used 25g white caster sugar and 50g soft brown sugar.
(**) Form the buns using your hands or tablespoons. However, you can also use in ice cream scoop (the sort with the button and the “bit” at the back of the scoop – this gives you equal measures, and the resulting buns look satisfyingly “rocky”.
Worth making? These are super-quick and very easy to make, and taste great, like a cross between cake and a scone. Good to have in the back pocket when you need to produce something for guests, and a nice recipe for kids that don’t want to wait too long to tuck in to their hard work.