My mother and father make the best rusks I know of and has been my constant supply over the years. Recently they started to educate me on this skill, not by choice but during the Covid-19 lockdown when I ran out of rusks and didn’t have access to them. They first sent me the recipe and then a succession of batches and phone-calls got me to the recipe below. I had to figure out which steps to follow, which steps to interpret and obviously what happens that is not written down. The below I consider fairly fool proof as baking stuff in an oven wise I really am an amateur but I now make great rusks.
- 1kg normal cake flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder (30ml) or ever so slightly more
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups of stuff (Stuff in this case means Oats, Bran, All Bran Cereal, Corn Flake Cereal, Coconut, Nuts, Seeds – you add what you like in your rusks but you need 4 cups in total and bigger stuff like cereal you crush a bit finer in your hands as you add it)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar (one and a half cups)
- 500 g butter (one big block)
- 500 ml buttermilk (comes in this size at shops)
- 3 eggs
- Put the butter in the sun or close to a fire or do something similar like in a pan on a stove to get the butter very soft. Bits of it can melt. That is ok but obviously don’t let it go lost, so if it melts have a plate underneath to collect it.
- Set your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and find two large baking trays and give them non-stick spray.
- In a large mixing bowl add the flour, baking powder, salt, 4 cups of stuff (bran, oats, coconut, nuts, seeds etc) and sugar and mix all of this well.
- Mix all of the butter into all of the flour and other dry matter. This step is important, I don’t know why but do it properly. I use an electric hand mixer for this step but a machine can also do it and a less fancy option of your two recently washed hands can also do it. You now have a bowl of large moist buttery flour crumbs.
- In a jug or bowl properly mix the eggs and the buttermilk and now mix this into the flour bowl. You want everything properly combined but not overworked so once everything is properly and smoothly combined you can stop. I use an electric hand mixer or wooden spoon for this step.
- Decant the batter into the baking trays. The shape and size of your trays will influence baking time and shape and size of your rusks so no right answer but my total baking tray surface between my two trays is about 40cm x 20cm. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to spread it out evenly.
- Bake for about 40 minutes until the tops are golden and a knife that you insert at various spots into what is now a baked rusk cake comes out clean. Bake longer if need be.
- Remove from the oven and slice the rusks into rusks. Let it cool like this for a bit and then tip the rusks onto a table. Where your slicing didn’t finish the job, break them into rusks and pack the rusks back onto over trays or racks with slight spaces between each rusk. Rusks can be imperfect shapes and sizes; this does not matter.
- Back to the oven to dry the rusks. This is the most technical part so phone your friends or relatives that know about rusk baking, everyone has advice. For me a modern convection oven with the fan setting at 100 degrees work just fine to dry my rusks. It takes a few hours. Some say on older stoves you need a lower temperature as low as 50 degrees and you need to leave the door slightly ajar but this takes ages so try to avoid that. The way to test if the rusks are perfectly dry is to eat one so I test often. You will know when they are perfectly dry. Important is important to not stop drying too soon. They need to be absolutely dry for a perfect dip in your morning tea or coffee.
- Let cool and then store in an airtight container.
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