Mom loves Rock Buns. She calls them 骆笨. If I haven't made them for some time, she would remind me that I still have dried fruits in the fridge. "Don't you think they'll be perfect for making 骆笨?" she would ask hopefully.
I first learnt to make Rock Bun back in my secondary school days. When I practise making them at home they turned out as hard as stone, which led my mother and my aunt to comment that it truly befits its name. In truth, the Rock Bun (or Rock Cake) is so called because it has a rough surface that resembles a rock. It originated in Great Britain during the Second World War, when strict rationing pushed families to create a tea-time treat that uses a lot less sugar and fewer eggs than regular cakes.
Preheat your oven at 200 degrees C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Put the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl, add the cubed butter and rub it through evenly. Stir in the lemon zest and dried fruit.
Beat the egg with the milk in a jug or another bowl, along with the vanilla extract, then pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to a stiffish but spoonable dough – add a dash more milk, if you think it needs it.
Scoop egg-sized dollops of the dough on to the pans keeping them rough looking, and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until just turning golden brown.