Vegetarian food blog featuring delicious and nutritious whole food recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Prune Rock Cakes – An Almost Traditional British Bake

Sultana & Prune Rock Cakes Cooling on a Rack

British, Small Cakes | 26th March 2019 | By

Rock cakes are a traditional British bake and they are one of the easiest to make. These sultana and prune rock cakes are a variation of the classic bake, but you can use whatever dried fruit you like. You’ll also find tips on how to make fresh apple rock cakes.

Craggy lumps of stiff cake dough are mounded onto a baking tray and bunged in the oven. The result are these scrumptious little morsels that look a bit like rocks. If you’ve never had them before, don’t worry, they are not rock-like in texture. Although they’re firm on the outside, they are in fact soft and crumbly on the inside. And utterly delicious too.

These sultana and prune rock cakes are a variation of the classic bake, but you can use whatever dried fruit you like. You’ll also find tips on how to make fresh apple rock cakes.

Queen of Puddings

My mother loves her puddings. When I was growing up, crumbles, steamed puddings and custards were nothing out of the ordinary. She was in fact a veritable Queen of Puddings.

She didn’t really go in for cakes though. I always had a birthday cake. And there was Christmas cake of course, but with one notable exception, there was little else. The exception was rock cakes. She always added a mixture of currants, mixed peel and dates to hers and I used to love them.

Sultana and Prune Rock Cakes

Following in my mother’s footsteps, I’ve been making rock cakes ever since I first started baking. My basic recipe is exactly the same as the one my mother used to use, but I tend to add different fruit to ring the changes. Sometimes I even add bits of chocolate. Apple rock cakes are one of my favourites, but this time I went for sultana and prune rock cakes.

As I’ve already mentioned, these cakes are both simple and quick to make. It’s just a case of rubbing butter into the dry ingredients, stirring in the sugar and fruit, then adding the wet ingredients.

Sultana and Prune Rock Cakes - 4 on a plate and the rest on the cooling rack.

Rather than use plain milk, try using sour milk instead. If you don’t have any sour milk, you can make an easy cheat’s version. Head over to my recipe for Cornish hevva cake to find out how. Or you can use kefir. I often have more kefir than I know what to do with and it works brilliantly in baking. So that’s what I used to make these prune rock cakes.

Another plus point to these near traditional British bakes is that they keep really well. You can store them in a sealed container for up to a week and they still taste good.

Surprisingly, for such humble cakes, my rock cakes get rave reviews from all who try them.

Nutritional Benefits of Prunes

Prunes are incredibly good for you and no, I don’s just mean they help to keep you regular. They contain a significant amount of boron and potassium, which helps to stabilise and possibly even build bone density.

This makes prunes super helpful to post-menopausal women and people like me, who have osteoarthritis in the family. Apparently astronauts are encouraged to take 5 a day when they’re in space to keep their bones strong. Prunes also have anti-inflammatory properties, so they’re doubly good for those with arthritis.

On top of their high fibre content and bone strengthening abilities, prunes also contain calcium and iron, making them particularly good for vegans. Having said all that, beware. Please don’t go overboard as too many consumed in one sitting can be positively harmful. The recommendation is to take 5-6 a day.

Other Prune Recipes You Might Like

Apple Rock Cakes

When apples are in season, do try and bake some apple rock cakes. They are really good. Follow the recipe for prune rock cakes, but use fresh apple instead of prunes and replace the mixed spice with one teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Peel, core and finely chop one cooking apple and stir this into the dry ingredients before adding the wet ones.

These have become such a favourite with one particular friend that she requests them whenever the opportunity arises. I first took a plate of them to her when she ran the local independent bookshop in Liskeard. It’s a marvellous place which somehow manages to keep going whilst many shops are closing around it. The staff always give excellent service and are friendly and knowledgeable. It may be small, but CT hasn’t found a book yet that they haven’t been able to order for him and he orders some rather obscure items.

Show Me

Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make these sultana and prune rock cakes, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or via social media. Do share photos on your preferred social media site and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.

For more delicious and nutritious recipes, follow me on TwitterFacebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

Prune Rock Cakes. PIN IT.

Sultana & Prune Rock Cakes Cooling on a Wire Rack

Prune Rock Cakes – The Recipe

Sultana & Prune Rock Cakes Cooling on a Rack
Print Pin
5 from 7 votes

Sultana and Prune Rock Cakes

These little rock cakes may look craggy, but they are soft and almost flaky in texture. You can substitute whatever dried fruit you like for the sultanas and prunes.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Afternoon Tea, Picnics, Snack
Cuisine: British
Keyword: apples, picnic, prunes, rock cakes, sultanas, traditional
Servings: 12 cakes
Calories: 171kcal


  • 8 oz (250g) wholemeal spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 4 oz (125g) unsalted butter cold and cubed
  • 2 ½ oz (75g) demerara sugar
  • 2 oz (60g) sultanas, raisins or currants
  • 2 oz (60g) dried prunes chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2-4 tbsp sour milk or kefir


  • First set the oven to 180℃ (350℉, Gas 4).
  • In a large mixing bowl, rub the butter into the flour, baking powder and mixed spice with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the sugar and mixed fruit.
  • Make a well in the centre and add the egg and 2 tbsp of milk. Stir with a flat bladed knife until the mixture comes together into a ball of sticky dough. Add more milk as necessary. The dough needs to be stiff enough to hold it's shape, but not so dry that you can knead it.
  • Spoon 12 craggy mounds onto a baking sheet, spacing a little apart. They will spread a little, but not hugely if you're mixture isn't too wet.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cakes are risen and golden, but not too dark. Set onto a wire rack to cool.


Handle the dough as little as you can get away with. You'll have a softer, flakier result the less you mix it.
Try not to have too much of the dried fruit poking out of the dough before baking as it's likely to burn in the oven.
Keep well in a sealed container for up to a week.
To make apple rock cakes, use fresh apple instead of prunes and replace the mixed spice with one teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Peel, core and finely chop one cooking apple and stir this into the dry ingredients before adding the wet ones.
Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per serving. They're approximate and will depend on serving size and exact ingredients used.


Calories: 171kcal | Carbohydrates: 21.7g | Fat: 8.5g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Potassium: 144mg | Fiber: 2.1g | Sugar: 8.4g | Calcium: 40mg


I’m sharing my sultana and prune rock cakes with Jo’s Kitchen Larder for #BakingCrumbs, with JibberJabberUK for #LoveCake, with Mummy Mishaps for #BakeOfTheWeek and Easy Peasy Foodie for #CookBlogShare.


  1. Jo Allison / Jo's Kitchen Larder

    26th March 2019 at 9:25 pm

    I really enjoy making rock cakes with my boys and I’m sure I would love your version with prunes so it goes on the list! 🙂 One of my favourite treats as a child was candied prune covered in dark chocolate which is actually quite a grown-up taste I must admit. Thank you for sharing your delicious rock cakes with #BakingCrumbs 🙂

    • Choclette

      27th March 2019 at 2:36 pm

      You were obviously a most precocious child Jo 😀 We often had them for dessert in amongst a compote of various dried fruits, but they weren’t my favourite. I suspect I wouldn’t have much cared for your dark chocolate version either. But now that sounds wonderful.

  2. angiesrecipes

    27th March 2019 at 5:13 am

    They look hearty, healthy and delicious! Great for breakfast too :-))

    • Choclette

      27th March 2019 at 2:37 pm

      A bit too sweet for me for breakfast Angie, but they’re great for later in the day.

  3. Corina Blum

    27th March 2019 at 9:25 am

    These sound really delicious! I grew up not having rock cakes (and I thought they actually were hard!) and the first time I had them was when my mother-in-law brought round a batch after little miss spice was born. Ever since then I’ve kept thinking I need to try making some one day!

    • Choclette

      27th March 2019 at 2:39 pm

      Oh you absolutely do Corina. They are a classic British bake and should not be forgotten 😀

  4. Helen

    27th March 2019 at 10:28 am

    Lovely! My 4 and 6 year old wolfed these down as a treat-y breakfast (the only benefit of being woken up at 6am is early morning baking). We added mixed peel and prunes.

    • Choclette

      27th March 2019 at 2:31 pm

      Fabulous Helen. I’m not sure anyone’s made one of my recipes so speedily after posting. Glad they were a success.

  5. Helen - Cooking with my kids

    27th March 2019 at 2:17 pm

    These look really tasty – rock buns were one of my Granny’s favourite bakes and I still make them the same way she did. #cookblogshare

    • Choclette

      27th March 2019 at 2:32 pm

      They are a great family recipe and it’s good to see they’re still going strong. Was there anything much different between my recipe and your Granny’s?

  6. Jenny Paulin

    27th March 2019 at 8:35 pm

    ooooh I do like a rock cake, although I have not had one for such a long time. I must rectify this and get making some with my boys, like I use to with my Nanny as a child. Thank you for sharing with #Bakeoftheweek and reminding me of a cake I really must make xx

    • Choclette

      28th March 2019 at 7:31 am

      These are just perfect for making with kids Jenny. Super easy and fun trying to make them look as rock-like as possible.

  7. Heidi Roberts

    27th March 2019 at 8:41 pm

    I love traditional recipes – it is good to keep them alive.

    • Choclette

      28th March 2019 at 7:33 am

      It really is Heidi. It’s exciting having so much to try and experiment with these days, but the old ones are often still good ones.

  8. jenny walters

    28th March 2019 at 8:09 pm

    I too have great fond memories of rock cakes. My grandmother always seemed to have some in a tin. I remember them as always delicious whether they were a week or a day old! I can just imagine how great they are with prunes. Thank you for sharing with #BakingCrumbs

    • Choclette

      29th March 2019 at 9:11 am

      Yes, you’re absolutely right. Rock cakes last really well. Scurries off to amend blog post!

  9. Phil in the Kitchen

    28th March 2019 at 10:27 pm

    My first encounter with rock cakes was when I was very small and my sister made some. They were like rocks. It took me a long time to get over that experience. I’d love these, though and it’s really good to see prunes used in baking. I don’t think they’re used enough.

    • Choclette

      29th March 2019 at 9:10 am

      Oh dear! Well I guess they had to live up to their name at some point. Does this mean you’ve never made rock cakes yourself Phil? And I agree about prunes, they can be a wonderful ingredient.

  10. Kavita Favelle

    29th March 2019 at 11:29 am

    Oh my goodness, not had rock cakes for eons! Great idea to add the prunes, definitely good for you and perfect for baking!

    • Choclette

      29th March 2019 at 7:55 pm

      Make some Kavey. They are dead easy to make and so good – especially with the prunes.

  11. Ceri Jones

    29th March 2019 at 11:46 am

    I remember making rock cakes in school – prob one of the first things I ever cooked and not sure I’ve made them since. I should take a trip down memory lane and make them as this looks delish!

    • Choclette

      29th March 2019 at 7:53 pm

      Oh you definitely should. It would be a sad thing indeed if rock cakes became a thing of the past.

  12. Arnab Saha

    29th March 2019 at 6:47 pm

    It is really very very easy to make. I like to make different types of recipes from my childhood. I will also try Prune Rock Cakes. Thank you for sharing your wonderful rock cakes.

    • Choclette

      29th March 2019 at 7:51 pm

      It can be quite therapeutic to have a trip down memory lane from time to time.

  13. Jill's Mad About Macarons

    3rd April 2019 at 12:57 pm

    I have fond memories of rock buns growing up in Scotland but rock cakes? They look wonderful and I absolutely love your choices of dried fruits in them, Choclette.

    • Choclette

      3rd April 2019 at 1:59 pm

      Thanks Jill, I don’t use prunes in my cooking enough. Do you think rock buns are any different to rock cakes, or is it all in the name?

      • Jo

        5th April 2019 at 5:27 pm

        Ah just noticed Jill’s comment after I posted mine. Calling them rock buns must be a Scottish thing (I’m Scottish) as they’re definitely the same as rock cakes. Fairy cakes have always been known as”buns” to me as well.

        • Choclette

          6th April 2019 at 12:04 pm

          I think it may be a celtic thing. These sorts of cakes are called buns down in Cornwall too, though I’ve never actually come across rock buns.

  14. Jo

    5th April 2019 at 5:19 pm

    Rock cakes (or rock buns as I’ve always known them) were one of my favourite things to bake when I was little. I haven’t made them for years! I really like your suggestion of adding prunes or dates, might have to try that! My aunty adds a sprinkling of demerara or granulated sugar to the top before baking so they have an extra bit of crunch which is lovely.

    • Choclette

      6th April 2019 at 12:03 pm

      Hello Jo. Lovely to hear from you. I think rock cakes (or buns) get overlooked for much fancier fare, but they are really delicious and well worth making from time to time. Everyone who tries them always wants the recipe.

  15. Kat (The Baking Explorer)

    5th April 2019 at 9:28 pm

    I’ve got some prunes and been wondering what to do with them so this is perfect!

    • Choclette

      6th April 2019 at 12:05 pm

      Let me know what you think if you do try them Kat.

  16. Anonymous

    20th January 2020 at 7:48 pm

    These cakes are sooo easy to make and delicious – highly recommended.
    We used pear instead of apple, no cinnamon (cos we didn’t have any) and dark chocolate broken into bits instead of milk choc drops.

    • Choclette

      20th January 2020 at 7:54 pm

      Pear rock cakes sound wonderful. These do seem to have touched a cord and many feelings, both good and bad, are attached to these humble cakes.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *