Rock Cakes

Does anyone remember the first thing they baked at school in Home Economics lessons? Gosh, I’m showing my age here. It’s called Food Technology in schools these days! My very first experience of baking in school was when I was in the Top Infants (as Year 2 was called back then). A parent volunteer used to come into school one afternoon a week and we used to take it in turns to go and bake. It seemed like forever until it was finally my turn and I remember being so excited.  My excitement soon turned to frustration though.  We were going to make gingerbread men. I already knew how to make gingerbread men and had made them before with my mum at home.  I can recall having to stand there whilst the adult did everything for us. We weren’t allowed to weigh anything out or to even gather the dough up into a ball.  Finally, we were allowed to roll the dough out but we were only allowed to make two gingerbread men each despite there being enough dough to make gingerbread men for the whole class.  When it came to decorating them, we had glace cherries and currants. I was so proud of my two gingerbread men but I didn’t feel that it was a real hands on experience.

When I became a teacher I always loved to do a bit of cookery if it fitted in with the curriculum.  Sadly, nowadays, along with all the other “life skills”, it’s been brushed aside for the 3 R’s and not much else.  I fondly remember a reception class I had being so excited when we had a teddy bear’s picnic one afternoon near the end of term. We spent all morning making the food for the picnic in groups. The children were so happy making sandwiches, baking buns and making teddy bear shaped biscuits as well as creating a fruit salad and healthy dips. I’ve always believed in the hands on approach and feel that you learn more by actually doing it.

After my children were born and I went back into education, first as a teaching assistant and then as a supply teacher, I found I could use my cookery skills to help others. I ran a very popular After School Cookery Club for a few years. I absolutely loved it and if I ever see one of my ex-pupils in town, they always mention Mrs Smith’s Cookery Club.  One thing we baked were rock cakes.  After talking to others, they often say they remember baking Rock Cakes!

I’ve always thought the name Rock Cakes has a double meaning.  They’re called that because they look like rocks but imagine if you’ve overcooked them and they come out hard as rocks!

Just before I went back to work from being furloughed, I dug out a few old cookbooks including my old Be-Ro one. I can just imagine my late Nana Mary baking from an earlier edition of it. I can’t remember her making Rock Cakes but I’m sure she must have done. My mum definitely did when we were young.

The Be-Ro Rock Cake recipe contains mixed, dried fruit and peel as well as ground mixed spice. I’ve used cherries and even chopped stem ginger in my rock buns in the past but I didn’t have those in. So I stuck with tradition.  They are so quick to make and are done within half an hour.

For copyright reasons, I am not permitted to copy the Be-Ro recipe word for word with you, but I can share a very similar recipe I have found online from the BBC Good Food Website: here 

For some reason this time, my rock buns looked more like cakes than knobbly rocks. They still tasted delicious, though and I took one to have on my tea break on the days I was working last week. The rest of my work mates got the other bakes, my Chocolate Mocha Latte Cake and some Lemon Cupcakes!

Can you remember what you first baked at school? Did you like cookery at school?

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

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