Old Fashioned Rock Cake Recipe (2024)

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A favourite British classic recipe, these old-fashioned rock cakes use simple ingredients and are easy to make.

A small single-served cake so named after its similar appearance to a rock, but don't let that put you off. Despite their appearance, these simple rock cakes are wonderfully crumbly and sweet!

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How to make rock cakes?

You can't go wrong making these easy English rock cakes; even the kids can help out. Check out the recipe slideshow below.

Continue to read for all the pictures, tips and tricks showing you how to make rock cakes at home, or use the below link to jump straight to the recipe card!

Rock cakes recipe card - printable


Rock cakes were trendy during World War 2; they used fewer rationed ingredients like egg and sugar than other English cake recipes.

Enabling families to have a sweet treat during the strict wartime rationing. Sometimes oatmeal would be used instead of flour.

More recently, they have been featured in the Harry Potter books, where Hagrid made them numerous times, but they were not enjoyed due to Hagrid's poor cooking skills. They were too hard!

Rock cake ingredients

Ingredients for rock cakes are plain flour,baking powder, mixed spice, salt, sugar, butter, sultanas, egg and milk.

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We make our rock cakes with plain flour, salt and baking powder to give a slight rise to them.

You could use self-raising flour instead for a similar result. Remember, no baking powder or salt will be needed if using self-raising flour (as it is already added to self-raising flour).

Mixed Spices

You can substitute the mixed spices with a mix of your favourite spices instead.

Dried Fruit

You can use a bag of mixed dried fruit instead of sultanas. Or any dried fruit you prefer, such as apricots, cranberries, apples or dates.

You could also switch the dried fruit for chocolate to make chocolate rock buns.

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The rock cake mixture should have a thick and sticky texture. The mixture will make nine large cakes.

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Remember, these do not need to be smooth, neat and tidy.

I encourage you to rough them up with a fork before baking to help achieve the rough rocky cracks. Perfect for sprinkling sugar into once cooked!

We like to cook our sultana rock cakes on a silicone sheet, but you can use parchment or greaseproof paper instead on a baking tray.

Oven Setting

I recommend cooking rock cakes in a conventional oven; even if you have a fan oven, turn it to a conventional setting or cake setting if you have that option.

This will give you the crispy outside and soft crumble in the middle that rock cakes are known for.


Cook at 190°C / 375°F (if you must use a fan - 170°C) for 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on them; they should have grown a little and been a light golden brown.

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Don't let those sultanas or dried fruit burn! I find about 18 minutes is just right!


Straight from the oven, it is normal for the rock cakes to be a bit soft to the touch. They firm up as they cool.

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Keep them on the baking tray until they have cooled enough to touch. Then transfer to a wire rack so they don't get a soggy bottom!

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Before they cool too much, it's time to take these simple rock cakes to the next level with a sprinkle of sugar, which gets into all the grooves and cracks.

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There you have it, the best rock cake recipe; you must try it to believe it!

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What are rock cakes like inside?

Inside the crispy sugary shell of rock cakes is a marvellous crumbly texture with an even scattering of your chosen dried fruit.

Makes a fantastic addition to a British afternoon tea cake stand.

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It can also be served similarly to British scones, with clotted cream and jam.

What is the difference between scones and rock cakes?

British scones and English rock cakes have similar ingredients, but the scone mix has a dough-like texture that is shaped with your hands and cut with cutters to be smooth.

Rock cake mixture, on the other hand, has a sticky cake texture, which isn't handled or shaped, helping to create the desirable rough and crispy cracks on the outside,

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They have a lovely soft sweet crumbly texture which is washed down perfectly with a cup of tea.

The kids love to help make these cakes, and they are a great addition to their lunch box or for a family picnic.

📖 Step by Step Recipe

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Rock Cakes Old Fashioned Recipe

Luke and Kay - Flawless Food

How to make Rock Cakes, using simple ingredients.

Inside the crispy sugary shell of British rock cakes is a marvellous crumbly texture with an even scattering of your chosen dried fruit.

These simple English cakes make a great addition to an afternoon tea stand.

Perfect kids snack for their lunch box or school fete.

US & UK measurements given

4.99 from 75 votes

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Prep Time 17 minutes mins

Cook Time 18 minutes mins

Total Time 35 minutes mins

Course Afternoon Tea, Brunch, Cake, Kids, Lunch, Party, picnic, Salad, Snack, Sweet

Cuisine English

Servings 9 Cakes

Calories 352 kcal


  • 300 grams Plain Flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 80 grams White Sugar + extra to sprinkle on once baked Caster or Granulated can be used
  • pinch Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Mixed Spice
  • 150 grams Butter
  • 200 grams Sultanas Can use any dried fruits
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 2 tablespoon Milk


  • Preheat Oven to 190°C /170°C fan/ 375°F.

    Add 300 grams Plain Flour, 1 ½ teaspoon Baking Powder, pinch Salt and ½ teaspoon Mixed Spice into a bowl.

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  • Add 80 grams White Sugar and mix all together

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  • Add 150 grams Butter and rub together using fingertips into the dry cake mix

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  • It should resemble breadcrumbs.

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  • Add 200 grams Sultanas

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  • Stir through so evenly distributed.

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  • Whisk 1 Large Egg and 2 tablespoon Milk together in a separate bowl

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  • Add the whisked mixture to the dry ingredients

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  • Use a fork to mix well together until it becomes sticky and forms together.

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  • Separate into approx 9 even-sized cakes use a fork to rough up the tops of the cakes a little.

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  • Leave space between each rock cake as they will grow a little during cooking! Cook in a preheated 190°C /170°C fan/ 375°F oven for 15-20 minutes until golden.

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  • Remove from oven, it is normal for them to still feel a bit soft at this point. They will firm up whilst cooling!

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  • Once cool enough to touch with hands, transfer to a wire rack to allow to cool further.

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  • Sprinkle with extra sugar.

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  • Eat whilst still warm, or allow to cool then store in an airtight container until ready to eat.

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Calories: 352kcalCarbohydrates: 53gProtein: 5gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 132mgPotassium: 284mgFiber: 2gSugar: 22gVitamin A: 449IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 55mgIron: 2mg

Keyword afternoon tea cake, British cake, dried fruit cake, english cake, hagrid cakes, hagrid rock cakes, harry potter cakes, old fashioned cake, rock buns, rock cakes, sultanas cakes, wartime cakes

Tried this recipe? Share an image on Facebook / Instagram / PinterestPlease mention @flawlessfooduk or tag #flawlessfooduk!

Updated on 10/04/2023 to include frequently asked questions.

If you love this easy rock cake recipe and want more sweet, easy recipes suitable to make with children, try our thumbprint cookies and oat flapjacks or the kids will love this no-bake edible cookie dough recipe.

Or stick with the sultana theme and make our large sultana cake similar but even more impressive!

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Please let us know how you get on, and remember to share this recipe with others to bring these fantastic old-fashioned rock cakes back into fashion again!

How to make rock cakes - old fashioned British recipe using simple ingredients. Easy and quick, and the kids can help too!


The mixture seems too dry.

The mixture should be dry, but if it is too dry to even form together you can add more milk 1 tablespoon at a time or use another egg.

Can I use self-raising flour?

Yes you can use self-raising flour instead of plain flour. Self-raising flour already contains baking powder so remember not to use additional baking powder when using self-raising flour.

Why do the sultanas sink to the bottom?

If your sultanas are sinking to the bottom the mixture is too runny.

Old Fashioned Rock Cake Recipe (2024)


Why are my rock cakes so dry? ›

If your rock cakes are too dry, it might be because you overmixed the batter or didn't add enough milk. If desired, you can sprinkle a little coarse sugar or demerara sugar over the top of your rock cakes to give them a sweet, crunchy top. For heartier rock cakes, add oatmeal.

What is rock cake made of? ›

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.

Why is my cake rock hard? ›

Over mixing cake batter can result in a heavy, closed rubbery texture. Over mixing acts on the gluten in flour and will make cakes hard instead of the lovely soft spongy texture we associate with a good cake.

How do you moisten old dry cake? ›

The 4 Best Ways to Fix a Dry Cake
  1. Brush the cake with a simple syrup glaze.
  2. Soak your cake in milk or cream.
  3. Add frosting.
  4. Fill your cake with mousse or jam.
May 14, 2023

Why is my cake dry and not moist? ›

The ratio of wet to dry ingredients determines a cake's moisture level. If there's simply too much flour and not enough butter, a cake will taste dry. On the other hand, if there's too much milk and not enough flour, a cake will taste too wet. Finding the right balance between wet and dry ingredients is key.

What is piffy on a rock cake? ›

piffy on a rock bun (uncountable) (slang, British, idiomatic) A person ignored or sidelined from an activity. I hate your work parties: you always talk shop with your mates and leave me sat like piffy on a rock bun.

Can I use plain flour instead of self-raising? ›

As a rule of thumb, to make plain flour into self-raising, add 2 tsp baking powder to 150g of plain flour. Advice on how much baking powder to add can vary.

What is another name for rock cakes? ›

A rock cake, also called a rock bun, is a small cake with a rough surface resembling a rock.

What's the difference between a rock cake and a scone? ›

Texture. I'm assuming rock buns are more of a biscuit. Scones are softer, consisting of the same butter, milk and sugar however there will be different ratios and cooking temperature, as well as length in the oven. ... Obviously eating but scones are definitely better with a cream and jam combination.

What is a geode cake? ›

Geode cakes are stunningly decorated layer cakes meant to mimic the famous natural formation of rock and precious and semiprecious stones. Pieces of the finished and frosted cake are cut out, and then the cavity is filled with edible crystals made out of rock candy.

What is the difference between a rock cake and a scone? ›

Rock Cake or Rock Bun dough is stiffer than Scone dough and is handled a bit more. Rock Cakes are smaller and dropped onto the baking tray by the tablespoon or formed roughly with two forks, whereas scones are rolled/patted out and cut into shape.

Can I use both butter and oil in cake? ›

A blend of these two ingredients gives the cake the best possible flavor and texture. Butter provides flavor while oil adds moisture and keeps it from being too dry. A cake made with all oil would be moist but lacking in flavor, and an all-butter cake may have a more buttery taste, but would be more dry.

Why do rock cakes go flat? ›

baking powder – make sure it's in date as stale baking powder doesn't have any “ooomph” and will give you flat rock cakes!

Does butter cream harden? ›

Keep the airtight container in the fridge if you don't plan to use the buttercream within three days. In the refrigerator, it will last for about a week. The buttercream will likely harden in the fridge, so you might need to whip it with a whisk or hand mixer to return it to its original fluffy glory.

Are rock cakes supposed to be dry? ›

It should not be too wet, nor too dry. Using the fork separate the dough into 10 rough balls of dough and place each ball on the lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet into the hot oven and bake the rock cakes for 15-17 minutes until golden brown.

How do you fix a cake that is too dry? ›

If your cake is dry, there are a few things you can do to fix it. One option is to add a wet ingredient, like water, milk, or fruit juice. You can also try heating the cake in the oven for a few minutes. If your cake is really dry, you may need to add some oil or melted butter as well.

Why are homemade cakes so dry? ›

2) Too much flour was used

If you use a cup rather than a scale there's a good chance you're using too much flour: up to 20% too much, if you use the measuring cup as a scoop then tamp the flour down. Any baked good — especially cake —with too much flour will be dry, hard, crumbly … take your unhappy pick.


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