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Vegan Traditional British Rock Cakes

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Vegan traditional British rock cakes are the easiest bake ever yet so tasty with a cup of tea, coffee, hot cocoa, or glass of chilled oat milk.

A batch can be ready in just 30 minutes and enjoyed hot from the oven. Such a simple yet delicious teatime treat. A gluten-free rock cake method is also provided.

Similar to tasty traditional fruit scones but with a less dense texture and less fiddly to prepare. Ideal for less confident cooks or kids to bake with supervision.

These little rustic, rugged rock buns are perfect for leaving out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve!

featured image for rock cakes, cake tray with lid with text 'cake' printed on, three plates with rock cakes, and three green tea cups to side, white wooden background.

Quick Origins Of British Rock Cakes

Rock cakes have been around for centuries. Mrs Beeton recorded recipes for rock cakes during the 1800s so its likely rock cakes date back much further in history.

Rock cakes are also known as rock buns. Resembling a scruffy more rustic scone in appearance and texture, rock cakes are much easier to prepare and quick to bake. Their rock-like appearance is really appealing and fun.

Really old recipes for British rock cakes often contain oatmeal as this ingredient was inexpensive and saved other more expensive ingredients being used. Rock cakes was a popular treat during world war 2 as these little tasty buns used less sugar, fat and eggs compared with cakes.

Growing up in Scotland rock buns was my absolute favourite thing to bake and no one seemed to mind if I overbaked them, which I generally did, and the buns actually became rock hard! You could literally chuck them at the wall and they would resist giving up the tiniest crumb! These days I bake the rock cakes for less time and they are deliciously soft. So tasty with a cup of tea or coffee for morning break or afternoon tea.

I guess my rock cakes of old were similar to the ones Hagrid served up to Harry Potter and Ron Weasley in the book and film Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. Harry Potter almost breaks a tooth trying to eat Hagrid’s rock cakes!

Other traditional bakes that are similar to rock cakes include British scones, Yorkshires fat rascals, England’s singing hinny’s, Scotland’s fatty cutties, and Yorkshire turf cakes.

vegan rock cakes on small plate, one rock cake split in half, dessert knife to side.

Vegan Traditional British Rock Cakes

These vegan traditional British rock cakes are the simplest bake with only a few common place ingredients required.

First the plain flour and baking powder is sieved into a bowl. The vegan butter is mixed into the flour mix with the finger tips until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Next the lemon zest, sultanas (or golden raisins), and sugar is stirred through. Plant milk is poured in by the tablespoonful just enough to make a very stiff, sticky dough.

Using a tablespoon the sticky dough is divided into 8 rock-like buns. This is the best part as neatness is not required! Instead uneven rocky formations are preferred.

A little extra sugar is sprinkled over each rock bun, before baking for 10-15 minutes on the middle oven rung. I have a fan oven so my rock cakes only require 10 minutes but for other types of oven a few more minutes may be needed for the rock cakes to take on golden hues, rise, and just bake to tasty perfection.

To finish the rock cakes can be left on the baking tray for 5-10 minutes before being removed to finish cooling on a wire rack or chopping board. Although the rock cakes will be fine if simply left on the baking tray to cool completely.

Or enjoy a rock cake warm from the oven. So tasty.

close up of pile of vegan rock cakes.

Recipe Notes And FAQS

How do I store vegan rock cakes?


Rock cakes are best stored in a covered container, wrapped in a layer or kitchen foil to preserve their freshness for longer. Although they can be stored under a cake display, or within a cookie jar/tin.

Store for up to 4 days, any longer the rock cakes can be freshened up by placing in the oven for a few minutes, or toasted on a dry hot plate/panini hotplate or dry fry pan.

Can I freeze rock cakes?


Yes. Rock cakes can be frozen for 3-4 months if well wrapped. Remove from the wrappings and defrost at room temperature until fully thawed.

Can I make these rock cakes gluten-free?


Yes with a few considerations these rock cakes can be gluten-free.

Use a gluten-free plain flour blend, along with a gluten-free baking powder. And add a 1/4 tsp of Xanthan gum to ensure the rock cakes are not too crumbly.

Also you may need extra liquid to mix into a stiff, sticky dough as gluten-free flour seems to be more thirsty and soak up more liquid. Lastly one and a half teaspoons of cinnamon is a tasty addition for gluten-free rock cakes. As is replacing the white sugar with soft/light brown sugar. The lemon zest can be omitted.

Gluten-free rock cakes are best eaten within a few days as they can become quite dry. Some fruit preserve/jam is a tasty accompaniment and helps with any dryness as well as a nice cup of tea. My teenage son enjoyed dipping his rock cake into his cup of tea, he reported it was very tasty!

If necessary freeze any rock cakes that won’t be eaten within a few days.

Gluten-free rock cakes, prepared with 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, soft brown sugar, and minus the lemon zest:

gluten free traditional British rock cakes vegan on cake tray, with small saucer above with cake fork and knife.

gluten-free vegan rock cakes split open on plate.
Gluten-free vegan rock cake split open.
Beautifully speckled with cinnamon
.

How To Prepare Traditional British Rock Cakes

pile of vegan traditional British rock cakes on cake tray with lid to side.
Time to put the kettle on!
Enjoy warm or at room temperature
featured image for rock cakes, cake tray with lid with text 'cake' printed on, three plates with rock cakes, and three green tea cups to side, white wooden background.

Vegan Traditional British Rock Cakes

Print Recipe
Rock cakes or buns are the easiest bake ever!
Similar to scones but so much simpler and just as tasty especially with a nice cup of tea, coffee, hot cocoa or a chilled glass of oat milk.
Perfect for leaving out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
Course Afternoon tea, Party, picnic, Snack, Supper
Cuisine British
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 8
Calories 177
Author Jacq

Equipment

  • Baking tray, greaseproof paper to line if necessary
  • Mixing bowl

Ingredients

  • 180 g plain flour sieved
  • 2 tsp baking powder sieved
  • 60 g vegan butter
  • 45 g granulated sugar or caster/or your usual sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling
  • 60 g sultanas or golden raisins, or replace with raisins/currants
  • 1 whole lemon, zest grate the zest, and keep the lemon for a different recipe
  • 6 tbsp plant milk more or less as required

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 200 Fan/ 220 Celsius/ 428 Fahrenheit/ Gas 7.
  • Line the baking tray with greaseproof/parchment paper if necessary.
  • Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl.
  • Add the vegan butter and using your finger-tips rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Mix through the lemon zest, sugar and sultanas.
  • Add three tablespoons of plant milk mixing to combine the flour mix into a stiff, sticky dough. The whole six tablespoons may be required.
  • Once the dough is stiff and sticky, use a tablespoon to divide the mix into 8 rock cakes and place these on the baking tray.
    The cakes do not have to be perfect circles or shapes.
    A ragged and rustic look is perfect.
  • Place the baking tray on the middle shelf and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden.
    My fan oven always takes 10 minutes for rock cakes but other types of oven may need a few minutes longer.
  • Leave on the baking tray to cool for 5 minutes before removing to cool further on a wire rack, chopping board, or simply leave on the baking tray.

Notes

  • Nutritional information is provided for guidance only and is not a strict analysis as ingredients vary.
  • Rock cakes are best stored in a covered container, wrapped in a layer or kitchen foil to preserve their freshness for longer. Although they can be stored under a cake display, or within a cookie jar/tin. Store for up to 4 days, any longer the rock cakes can be freshened up by placing in the oven for a few minutes, or toasted on a dry hot plate/panini hotplate or dry fry pan.
  • Rock cakes can be frozen for 3-4 months if well wrapped. Remove from the wrappings and defrost at room temperature until fully defrosted.
  • Instead of sultanas (golden raisins) use raisins, or currants or a dried fruit mix.
  • For a tasty variation omit the lemon zest and add a teaspoon and a half of cinnamon or pumpkin spice mix/ apple pie mix/mixed spice/ginger, etc.
  • For gluten-free rock cakes: Use a gluten-free plain flour blend, along with a gluten-free baking powder. And add a 1/4 tsp of Xanthan gum to ensure the rock cakes are not too crumbly.
    Also you may need extra liquid to mix into a stiff, sticky dough as gluten-free flour seems to be more thirsty and soak up more liquid. Lastly one and a half teaspoons of cinnamon is a tasty addition for gluten-free rock cakes.
    Gluten-free rock cakes are best eaten within a few days as they can become quite dry. Some fruit preserve/jam is a tasty accompaniment and helps with any dryness as well as a nice cup of tea. My teenage son enjoyed dipping his rock cake into his cup of tea, he reported it was very tasty!
    If necessary freeze any rock cakes that won’t be eaten within a few days.

Nutrition

Calories: 177kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 161mg | Potassium: 89mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 310IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 1mg

More Traditional Vegan Bakes:

Edinburgh fruit scones

Chocolate concrete cake (old British school dinners recipe)

Chocolate British flapjacks

Scottish shortbread biscuits

Traditional Empire biscuits

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