Thursday, 17 November 2016

Orange and Stem Ginger Rock Cakes

If it's November, it must be a Christmas choir rehearsal:  that excitement of getting together to start practising this year's carols, learning new music, belting out the old favourites.   This recipe is an update on an old favourite - pretty much everybody who starts to bake learns to make rock buns, they are a staple!

My choir's first rehearsal is the "tea and cake" one, and the pressure is on to make something (or several somethings!) for the hungry singers.  Singers don't eat chocolate, but hoover up anything and everything else.    Rock cakes are like the choir - sweet orange zest for the soprano top notes, the warmth of the ginger for the altos, spice for the tenors and the basses... well, that's the rocky exterior!

Orange and Stem Ginger Rock Cakes 
Orange and Stem Ginger Rock Cakes

8oz/225g plain flour (or a gluten free blend)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger (or more for a real kick!)
4oz/100g butter cut into small pieces (or a spread)
4oz/100g Demerara sugar
zest of 1 orange
3oz/75g golden raisins/sultanas
3oz/chopped stem ginger 
1 egg, beaten plus a little milk

Preheat oven to 200 deg C, and line one large or two small baking trays with non-stick baking parchment (or grease the trays).   This will make about 12.

Sieve the flour, spices and baking powder.  Rub the butter/spread into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs (you could also do this in a mixer, pulsing at low speed).   Stir in the sugar, orange zest and fruit.  Pour in the beaten egg and mix it in gently (again, quick pulses).  You will probably need to add about a dessertspoon of milk, or slightly more (especially if you use gluten-free flour).   The mixture should be stiff and crumbly (the clue is in the name!).    Drop the mix in tablespoon sized lumps onto a baking sheet – you can shape it with a fork, but it should look craggy and rough.    Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack – when they are straight out of the oven, the cakes are quite soft and will spread a little, so use a fish slice to pick them or up or they will break.