Friday, January 24, 2014

Rock Buns at the River

A cup of tea, a rock bun and a canoe - relaxing by the Breede River
Ever since the dawn of time, holidays at the Breede River have been synonymous with rock buns. In my husband’s family at least. 

Nostalgic memories of long ago winter holidays snug in a caravan on their family plot with an apparently endless supply of the fragrantly spiced buns (how did they manage that endless part?... any time I bake them they disappear within 24 hours!) are part of his family history, enduring long after the plot was sold, the family grown up and scattered.

The River continues to exert its pull and our family holidays have been taken there ever since we moved back to South Africa, albeit in a series of rented houses, so the family rock bun recipe has been added firmly into my repertoire, to be baked several times over the course of a holiday, as long as the ingredients last.

Nutmeg and mixed spice, dried fruit mix and a light cakey mixture, they have some of the flavours of Christmas without the heaviness and are perfect to go with early morning tea when a swim or canoe ride are planned before breakfast, or to go with a cup of tea anytime really.

Rock Bun Recipe
Makes 12

2 cups (500ml) self-raising flour (or plain flour + 2 teaspoons baking powder)
pinch salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon mixed spice
125g / 4 oz butter
½ cup sugar
¾ cup mixed dried fruit / fruit cake mix
1 egg
2-3 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 175˚C / 350˚F

Sift together the flour, salt and spices.
Cut the fridge- cold butter into dice and rub them into the flour, until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
Stir in the mixed fruit and sugar.
Beat the egg and milk together then stir it into the dry ingredients.
Mix till it starts clumping together. Use a bit more milk if it is still too dry.
Place in rough heaps on a greased baking tray.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until light golden brown.
Cool on a rack or eat warm.

And best bake a double batch while you’re about it, as they will disappear in a trice.

I thought I hadn’t put this old family favourite recipe on the blog yet, but I proved to be wrong. I wrote about baking rock buns on a very hot summer night back in 2009 for a class bake sale, and once at the very beginning of my blog in 2006 for my husband to take to a family wedding. I was rather light on photos back then, so hope you don’t mind the re-run with the ultimate river rock bun pics taken on our recent flooded holiday there. Just goes to show that the best recipes stand the test of time!


  1. I don't think I will ever tire of nostalgia, so I like that you repeat a favorite recipe. I have never head of rock buns - are they similar to a scone maybe? Anyway, I got a little carried away here, read about George and the wedding, a rock bun would have been great to nibble on. Thanks for the visit ;)

  2. Thanks for visiting and staying a while, Sam. Next time I'll bake some rock buns especially for you! They are a traditional English tea thing. Slightly richer than a scone mix, more of a cake really, but all its own texture and the warm spices and fruit are the crux of the matter!.

  3. This reminds me of Hagrid's "rock cakes" in the Harry Potter books... only yours are edible and delicious, where his were... not so much. 8-)

  4. Yes I'm sure Hagrid's were more rock than cake! I guess the name comes from them being all rough and uneven around the edges - like those 'pet rocks' of the 80s!


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