Thursday, December 25, 2008

Rock Cakes

Nan (q.v.) took her special recipe for rock cakes to her grave, or, to be more accurate, the Springvale crematorium. However, reconstructing the general approach from memory, it must have gone something like this:

Heat your oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub 4 oz of butter into 8 oz of self-raising flour with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Add 4 oz of sugar, ½ cup of sultanas, ¼ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg, and maybe some other spices, to taste, allspice perhaps?, and mix them in thoroughly.

Make a little hollow in the middle, and add 1 egg, lightly beaten, and 3 tablespoons of milk. Gently mix all this into a good dough.

Place heaped dessert-spoonfuls of this promising concoction in lumps on a greased baking sheet, allowing some room for spreading, then bake for 10 minutes, or until the rock cakes are very lightly browned.

Allow to cool, make a pot of tea, then devour.

Now, something tells me that there was a certain astringency, a nip in the aftertaste, that suggests that Nan may have used baking soda, but I cannot be sure.

As well, this illustration is all wrong, because Nan never permitted her rock cakes to assume more than the slightest hint of brownness. Her rock cakes, in other words, were essentially blond, and smoother in texture, so the dough was therefore probably a few notches higher on the sloppiness scale.

Although the basic features are certainly correct, this recipe has Tasmanian provenance, and is therefore not entirely reliable.

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