Like one or two other of our small but much loved institutions, the rock cake seems to have crumbled away a little lately, almost unnoticed. It does seems a long time since they were a common sight, now supplanted perhaps by those US-style muffins that landed in the mid-Eighties.
The classic rock cake is one that is authentically geological on the outside, but flaky and dryly moist on the inside. The best boast a truly generous helping of fat raisins, are mildly spicy and boast a light encrusting of little sugar granules. They fill a specific gap in the cake spectrum, being larger and more filling than a scone, but not so frivolous and sweet as a muffin, a flapjack or a brownie.
Rock cakes are best enjoyed at elevenses (another disappearing custom), cut in two with butter. The rock cake is also simple to make, and economical too. Indeed it is probably the ideal cake for the credit crunch. Maybe you have a craving for one now, as the coolest and most charming of confections. In fact, rock cakes totally rock.