I haven’t made rock cakes in a long time. In fact, the last time I baked up a batch of these crispy-outside, tender-inside tea cakes, it was well before an Internet recipe search yielded several versions of Harry Potter’s buddy’s “Hagrid’s Favorite Rock Cakes.”
It was well over a decade ago that I returned from a semester studying abroad and traveling in Australia. While at university Down Under, I earned extra cash by cleaning a sweet old lady’s posh and gilded home. Usually she was away, but one time she stayed around to show me the spots I’d missed – and very kindly to serve some rock cakes and tea. She did not share her recipe. But after returning home to my college apartment kitchen, I perfected a recipe from a cookbook I bought while away, Best Recipes from the Weekly published by The Australian Women’s Weekly magazine.
Before kids, I had the time to convert all the Australian measurements to US standards; I also had the patience to measure out the (tedious) converted measurements: 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon of flour, 5 ½ tablespoons of sugar, and 8 1/3 tablespoons of milk. But when I dug out the recipe the other day and made it with our blog audience in mind, I simply made the recipe using the measurements printed on the cookbook page (changing several ingredients to suit our tastes.) Since nearly all Australian measurements are slightly greater than American standards (1 US cup = 236 mL, 1 AU cup = 250 mL; 1 US tablespoon = 15 mL, 1 AU tablespoon = 20 mL,) the proportions came out about right. Obviously, it doesn’t work with every recipe – but since a scone-like biscuit is somewhat forgiving, this recipe came out perfect.
What old recipes have you dug up lately? Ever had a rock cake?