A form of fruited scone or small cake or bun made with a jagged, rock-like, surface.
The name seems to come from the USA, first being noted in the 'Daily National Intelligencer' (Washington, D.C.) in 1815 (OED), where the earlier receipts include almonds.
"Brighton" Rock Cakes
Original Receipt from 'Saleable Shop Goods for Counter-Tray and Window:' by Frederick T Vine (Vine 1907)
No. 44.- Rock Cakes
2 lbs, Vienna flour. 1/2 lb. sugar.
1/2 lb. butter, 1/2 lb. currants.
1 oz. cream of tartar, 1/2 oz. carbonate of soda.
4 eggs, Milk.
Mode. - Sieve the soda, cream, and flour well together upon the board and make a bay, laying the currants round the outside; cream up the butter and sugar in a bowl, adding the eggs in the usual manner; when you have beaten it upright, turn out into the bay, add milk, and make into dough, not too tight or too slack; lay out in twenty-five or twenty-eight rough buns upon a greased flat tin with forks, as shown in the illustration (Fig. 25); dredge sugar over, and bake in a very warm oven. Sell at 1d., or make half the size for 1/2d. ones.
Original Receipt in 'The Allinson Vegetarian Cookery Book', by Thomas R. Allinson, 1915
WHOLEMEAL ROCK CAKES.
1 lb. of meal, 3 oz. of butter or vege-butter, 1/4 lb. of sugar, a cupful of currants and sultanas mixed, 3 oz. of blanched almonds, chopped fine, 1 teaspoonful of cinnamon, or the grated rind of half a lemon, 3 eggs, and very little milk (about 3/4 of a teacup). Rub the butter into the meal, add the fruit, almonds, sugar, and cinnamon, beat up the eggs with the milk, and mix the whole to a stiff paste. Flour 1 or 2 flat tins, place little lumps of the paste on them, and bake the cakes in a quick oven 25 to 35 minutes. Particular care must be taken that the paste should not be too moist, as in that case the cakes would run. Vege-butter is a vegetable butter, made from the oil which is extracted from cocoanuts and clarified. It can be obtained from some of the larger stores, also from several depôts of food specialities. It is much cheaper than butter, and being very rich, goes further.
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