Rock cakes revisited Reply

What else is there to do on a rainy day when you have a pile of laundry calling? Get out the apron and make even more mess by baking! I have all the ingredients and have been ‘threatening’ to do it for a while now, so I decided to revisit the recipe for rock cakes and see if I can solve the dusty crumbs problem.I am no baker. I love my food, I love to cook but I do not love baking. I find it boring and messy. And to be honest I don’t even really like cakes and ‘baked goods’ that much anyway. This is purely a labour of love. I just can’t wait to see their little faces when they come in from school and I tell them that I have made ‘Grandma cakes’.

Most people I have met who love cooking, love baking too. They find it hard to understand why I dislike it so much. I need to explain. With cooking something like a soup for instance, I get huge satisfaction out of the chopping part. I find it such a stress reliever. I love the smells from the frying of the onions and other vegetables. Mixing it all with the liquids and listening to it simmer and bubble is very satisfying. And the best bit of all is regularly checking it/tasting it to see if it is ok. If it is not working out I can keep tasting it and adding stuff until it is perfect.

With baking you cannot taste as you go along and you can do everything the same, time and time again and the outcome can be different every time. Very frustrating, to me. Over the years, I have watched my mum and sister make so many cakes from the same old recipes and the end result can vary wildly. I find it unnerving that you cannot really be sure if something is cooked through the middle without potentially wrecking the thing. And I hate the mess. Flour is much more difficult to clear up than a bit of dropped onion skin. I am a bit too heavy handed and slapdash to be a baker. The stuff just goes everywhere. My kitchen floor looked like something out of a CSI episode earlier, with some neat foot prints perfectly outlined with a dusting of flour.

Anyway, back to today’s mission – solving the problem of the dusty crumbs. In the past, I had never used Xanthan Gum. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the name put me off and I didn’t really know what it was for or how to use it. But, I decided I might need to look it up in case it is the vital missing ingredient. Turns out that it was! The clue is in the name. Gum. It makes the dough/battermix or whatever it is called, super sticky. To be honest I think I used a little too much, as it was really sticky and stretchy and looked a bit more like pizza dough as I stirred the fruit through.

BEFORE – The uncooked rock cake mixture

They were so so easy and quick to make. It took me longer to clear up the mess than to actually make them. They baked in around twenty minutes and looked pretty perfect. Well let’s face it the perfection of a rock cake is its imperfection and the fact that the whole batch should look odd and non-uniform. One thing I am very good at. I don’t know how I am going to manage when the time comes for me to revisit my fairy cakes! Beautiful and dainty does not come naturally to me.

Of course, I had to try one. So I got the biggest one (well no-one was here to judge me) and I figured if the biggest one is cooked through, then the rest must be ok! With a little bit of rare excitement, I gently pulled it apart. No crumbs!!! Well, some. But none were powdery or dusty or likely to require me vacuuming the children from head to toe later. So a success I would say. Obviously, the children have not tasted them yet – so I can’t really call them a success until my judges have given their verdict. I am off to collect them from school shortly. Fingers crossed they meet with their approval. If they do, and if the rest of the cakes don’t explode into a cloud of dusty crumbs, then I promise to post the revised recipe and some photos…

AFTER – Baked and ready to eat

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