South African rusks

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There are a whole lot of things that stand out about our time in South Africa last year – meeting Kevin’s wonderful extended family, road tripping through the South African countryside and (of course) every moment of our dream safari. But one thing I didn’t expect to stand out so much were rusks.

We were lucky enough to stay with family friends during our time in Johannesburg and were made even luckier by all the beautiful cooking and baking that filled their home – including homemade South African rusks packed with all kinds of seeds and grains.

I find rusks a bit of a tricky thing to explain – they’re kind of biscuits that you bake as one big sheet, then slice up into chunks and slowly dry out overnight in a cool oven so they are absolutely rock hard. Like break-your-teeth hard. Until you dunk them in a hot cup of tea or coffee to soften them up – then, like magic, they are a beautiful little treat to work your way through.

From our first jet-lagged morning on African soil, Kevin and I both chewed and crunched our way through countless rusks over endless cups of coffee. For me it was a novelty, but for Kevin it was more of a walk down memory lane. And we both loved every bite!

I’ve been meaning to try making some similar grainy rusks ever since we returned from our holiday but life kept getting in the way. But now that I’m on maternity leave and patiently waiting for this baby to arrive, I figured it was the perfect time to surprise Kevin with a batch of homemade rusks.

And you know what? They’re freaking delicious.

So good in fact that we’re back to our jet-lagged ways of downing endless cups of tea just so we have an excuse have a rusk (or two).

Keen to try making them yourself? Then check out the recipe below – and let me know what you think!

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South African rusks
Adapted from NOMU
Makes approx. 50 pieces

Ingredients

  • 500g wholemeal flour
  • 50g almond meal
  • 50g slivered almonds
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup wheat bran
  • 1.5 Tbsp baking powder
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 500ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a large baking tray with baking paper (I used a lamington tray)
  2. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Mix until well combined.
  3. Pour buttermilk into a jug or small bowl and add eggs and vanilla. Whisk until well combined. Add buttermilk mixture and melted butter to dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  4. Scoop mixture into prepared tray (it will be pretty thick and sticky) and spread evenly. Place in oven and bake for 60 minutes. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool for five minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 90 degrees Celsius.
  6. Turn out onto a large chopping board and slice into rectangular wedges. Place wedges onto prepared baking trays, leaving a small gap between each piece.
  7. Place sliced rusks into oven and leave to dry for 8 hours (yip – 8 hours. That’s not a typo!). Once cool, store in an airtight container.