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Rusks - they're easier to make than you think

A quintessential tea-time treat in South African households, the humble rusk can sometimes be a mystery to people.

by: Tessa Purdon | 18 Jun 2018
coffee and rusks

(image: iStock) 

This piece was inspired by our baking contributor and food blogger extraordinaire, Katelyn Allegra of The Kate Tin. She recently posted a recipe for Maltabella rusks and it got me thinking that we don't really play around with flavours and ingredients in rusk-making as much as we could! Apart from commercial varieties (have you seen the banana bread rusks on sale at Woolies? and of course there were the Lemon Cream flavoured Ouma rusks that made an appearance on shelves a few months ago).  

Perhaps it's just one of those things for many people that feels inherently wrong to sway from the good ol' buttermilk variety. We asked our Twitter followers if they purchased their rusks from a supermarket or made them at home. The results were quite clear: very few of you make rusks from scratch. But this is also understandable... rusks require patience. And many, it seems, are intimidated by the idea of having to make their own. There's nothing nicer than experiencing the aromas of rusks slowly baking (and then drying out) in the oven on a Winter's day. A genuine sense of hygge if ever there was one. 

ALSO READ: Tips from my granny’s kitchen and how I uncovered the real magic of rusk baking

What you need to know about making rusks:

1. They're made of a basic dough that usually consists of cake flour, salt, sugar, eggs, melted butter and a leavener like baking powder or sometimes yeast. 

2. They're twice-cooked (meaning they are baked first and then cut into their shapes and placed back into the oven to dry out at a very low temperature - overnight is best). 

3. They can last ages (months!) if they're stored correctly in an airtight container. 

4. The process couldn't be simpler - the wet ingredients are added to the dry ingredients until combined. 

5. You can either divide the dough into balls and snuggle them all up together in the baking tin (this helps them to come apart more easily once baked). Other recipes don't require this step so you can simply pour all the batter into the tin and chuck into the oven. For this method, you'll need to be rather deft with a knife as any vigorous action could result in heaps of crumbs. 

Have we convinced you to make your own rusks yet? Try these fun recipes below! 

Muesli rusks

Low carb orange, poppy seed and almond rusks 

Granola and cranberry buttermilk rusks 

cranberry rusks recipe

Raisin and date studded rusks


Do different types of sugar really make a difference in baking?

(image: iStock) Short answer? Yes! Sugar is essential for baking; not only does it makes things taste delicious, but it goes through many amazing chemical reactions to give us fluffy cakes, chewy biscuits or light-as-air crisp meringue!

Read more on: rusks  |  south african cuisine  |  recipes  |  baking

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