South African Rusks Recipes

 

Rusks are hard, very dry biscuits, originally prepared in South Africa by the Dutch for traveling long distances in a hot climate. Rusks were a bread that wouldn't spoil. Now, all over South Africa, rusks are eaten as snacks, dipped in coffee, tea, or milk. In the cities, many different varieties of commercially baked rusks are available. There are raisin, chocolate chip, almond, peanut, and probably soon, oat-bran rusks.

  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat bread flour (coarsely ground if possible)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix the dry ingredients. Combine all the wet ingredients, pour them into the dry ingredients, and stir until you have a soft dough, similar to biscuit dough. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and roll or pat it to about a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut the dough into rectangles about 2 by 4 inches. Bake the rusks about 2 inches apart on buttered baking sheet for about 25 minutes until the tops are crisping and browning a little. Now, eat a few "soft" rusks warm from the oven. Loosely pile the rusks on a baking sheet and keep them in a 200 degree oven all day or all night (about 12 hours) to dry. The finished rusks should be very dry and hard. Cool and store in an airtight container. Rusks will keep for weeks.

Variations

Oatmeal-Raisin Rusks: Reduce the white flour to 1 1/2 cups and add 2 cups rolled oats and 1/2 cup currants or chopped raisins.

Almond Rusks: Add 1 cup chopped almonds and omit the cinnamon.

Peanut Rusks: Add 1 cup coarsely chopped peanuts.

Anise Rusks: Omit the cinnamon and almond extract and add 2 tsp pure anise extract or 1 Tbsp anisette.