While I may not have been the target audience, I immensely enjoyed the entire Harry Potter series. I read each book and saw each movie of the franchise. I joined the hordes of little ones waiting for the next instalment of "The-Boy-With-The-Lightning-Scar" and "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named"!! It was a world of wizards and mudbloods , of elfs and muggles, of spells and wands, of quidditch and potions and of butterbeer and Mrs.Weasley's rock cakes!!
I pretty much assumed that rock cakes, a personal favourite of Harry, were a figment of J.K.Rowling's imagination, much like chocolate frogs, cauldron cakes and cockroach clusters!! However, my mother assures me that "rock cakes" do exist in the muggle world too!!
She recollects how the nuns in her convent boarding school taught the little women under their care to bake and one of the first things they happened to make were rock cakes. Her eyes lit up and she got really animated talking about them and that put me on the 'Google' rock cake trail to find out more about them!!
Rock cakes are traditional, British, tea-time treats. While today they might be considered retro and hardly talked about, they were quite popular in post-war Britain right until the 1980s. As it happens, these are your no-fuss home-baked goodies made with basic pantry ingredients. Not pretty to look at all and hence, the name 'rock cakes'. There is no grand technique to making them, after all my mother remembers making them as a young lady of ten!! They might look like biscuits but actually have the soft consistency of a cake.
For these rock cakes, I turned to one of my favourite blogs from Down Under, Citrus and Candy. She adds a twist of chocolate chips and lemon zest to the traditional recipe with the original source of her recipe being a 70′s Good Housekeeping bible!! I told you this was a retro recipe!!
Like I said earlier, these have the taste of quintessential home-baked goodies!! The chocolate chip and zest giving them a contemporary feel and look. However, while these cakes may look more like chocolate chip cookies, their texture is nothing like their cookie counterpart. In fact, they have a cake-like consistency that actually made me prefer their soft texture to that of a chewy cookie!!
This was such an easy recipe taking me altogether an hour from start to finish. In fact, it's so easy that if you have a little Potter fan at home, they can easily be recruited to help you!! Am pretty sure the idea of baking Harry Potter's favourite baked goodies will appeal to them!!
As for my mother, one look at these little cakes had her calling up her elder sister excitedly to reminiscence about them. They might both be grandmothers today but these rock cakes had them giggling like a pair of schoolgirls!!
Mrs Weasley's Rock Cakes
Adapted from a recipe by Citrus and Candy
makes approx 15 medium sized cakes (the recipe can easily be doubled)
- 1 cup flour
- 1 + 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 40 gms demerara sugar
- 10 gms caster sugar
- 60 gms cold, unsalted butter, chopped
- Zest of 1 lemon or orange, finely grated
- 50 gms raisins
- 50 gms chocolate chips
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-3 tbsp milk (only if needed)
- Pre-heat oven to 180 deg C and line a baking sheet.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the chopped butter and rub it into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. You can also do this in a food processor. Pulse all the ingredients together until they resemble crumbs.
- To the crumb-like texture, stir in the zest, chocolate chips and raisins.
- Add the beaten egg and the vanilla extract to the mixture and mix with a wooden spoon till the mixture comes together.
- If and only if, the mixture feels a bit too dry, add one tablespoon of milk at a time until the dough comes together. Do not overwork the mixture.
- Pull out walnut sized balls from the dough and place them on the baking sheet. Keep room between the balls of dough as they will spread a little during baking. With the back of a spoon, flatten the balls slightly.
- Bake for around 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
- Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.