Named not for their taste, but for their rough appearance, these WWII rock cakes are the perfect tea-time treat. Buttery, crumbly, and highly addictive, these fast and easy goodies can be made in under half an hour!
I am currently bracing myself.
Winter has come.
And not the twinkling lights and eyes all aglow kind of winter. Oh no. Its the icy, bleak, tundra of death kind of winter.
Except, actually, not here.
NYC is currently having one of the warmest recorded winters ever.
Still, the weather remains bleak. The sun sets too early, and now there are no holiday lights to stave off the darkness and the cold. Because somebody had to go and put the tree away before January 6th or else it means bad luck. I’m looking at you self.
So, to fill the empty shell, devoid of all holiday cheer, that is now my home I decided to bake. Because nothing cheers me up more than to successfully bake something.
But first, here are some questions for you: Ever read Harry Potter? Hah! Of course you have.
Ever wondered what on earth the rock cakes Hagrid was serving are? Hah! Maybe you didn’t, but I certainly did.
At first I thought rock cakes were made up, and imaginary, much like chocolate frogs or every flavor beans. I suppose that might put me in a category with people who pronounced Hermione’s name wrong. (My British mum is probably groaning at me as she reads this confession).
But they are certainly very real! In fact, brief and basic history review: During World War 2, Great Britain imported a large amount of its food. Germans attempted to starve out the country by cutting off the imports and blocking the ports.
Thus, rationing was implemented.
Eat for victory!
People were encouraged to grow lots of their own things, and things you couldn’t get on your own had to be divided up.
Rock cakes, or rock buns, became popular because they took less eggs and sugar than regular cakes. Also, in original recipes they used margarine or lard because butter was so scarce.
Much later, rock cakes gained further popularity from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books and can now be found world-wide.
The recipe is very simple, fast, and easy to make. And this is my spin on it:
You mix flour, sugar, lemon zest and baking powder together.
Then, rub in some cold butter until it looks like bread crumbs.
Then, add a beaten egg, some vanilla, lemon juice and cream.
Make it into dough and then mix in the craisins and chocolate chips.
Bake it for 15 minutes and you’re done.
Here’s What You Need:
- 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (half of a lemon)
- 1 large egg (beaten)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 cup mix-ins (I used half semisweet chocolate chips and half craisins, but you can use any kind of dried fruit, chocolate, or nuts) plus some extras for sticking on top.
Here’s What You Do:
- Turn oven to 350 F degrees. Prepare a baking sheet using parchment paper and cooking spray or a silpat. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and lemon zest.
- Add butter, and using your fingers, rub the butter into the dry mixture to create a bread crumb consistency. (HINT: This can be done way faster in a food processor. If you have one, use it.)
- In a small bowl combine egg, vanilla, lemon juice, and cream. Beat until thoroughly mixed together.
- Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until a soft yellow dough forms.
- Fold in mix-ins until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
- Make golf ball sized balls and place them on prepared baking sheet. (Make sure you leave enough room between rock cakes, as they will double in size).
- Bake for 15 minutes on center rack, or until the bottom edge is a light brown color.
- Remove from oven, but allow to cool for 5 minutes on pan before moving rock cakes to a wire rack.
Makes 15 amazing and addicting rock cakes