Here’s my recipe for crunchy, crumbly rusks – inspired by the double-baked biscuits we dipped into our morning coffee during our recent holiday in South Africa. Rusks are quite an institution there and we tried many variations, ranging from interesting to flavorless, baked-for-the-masses versions.
We were served coffee and rusks every morning before our 5:00 a.m. safari rides. I admit I was slow to embrace what seemed a rough imitation of biscotti, but then it would be difficult for me to enjoy any food at 5:00 a.m. Our friend Jim assured me that there were better rusks to be had and he was right. After a week in the Kruger, our road trip took us south through the Garden Route where we had many opportunities to try others. I never found any sold in individual servings; they were always in family sized bags, so if we “got a bad batch” we were stuck with them.
The best were some we had at our friends’ cabin down on the cape. They were store-bought but quite tasty. I was so excited about them that our friend Georgina gave me several recipes which inspired my version.
The recipe calls for self rising flour plus additional baking powder. This ensures that the biscuit is airy. Several recipes call for sultanas, or golden raisins but I substituted dried blueberries from my favorite online shop, Nuts.com. I also added a little cinnamon and nutmeg. Since this recipe calls for several ingredients that I don’t normally keep on hand, like oat bran and unsweetened coconut, I bought them in the bulk foods department at our local all-natural grocery, where I could purchase small amounts.
All the dry ingredients are mixed together. Then the liquids are added to create a thick, bready dough which is easily patted into a 9×13 rectangular cake pan:
After baking once, turn the baked dough onto a cutting board and cut into rectangular rusks:
The rusks are placed back into the over to bake a second time then left in the cooling oven overnight.
In the morning, make that pot of coffee, open the oven door, grab a couple of crunchy, crumbly rusks and head for the back porch.
- 18 ounces* Self Rising Flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup granola
- ½ cup oat bran
- ⅓ cup dried blueberries
- ⅓ cup currants
- ¼ cup flax seeds plus extra for topping
- ⅔ cup natural, unsweetened coconut
- ¾ cup brown sugar (packed)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 egg
- *4 cups, using dip & sweep method
- Grease a 9 x13 cake pan and set aside.
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Place all dry ingredients and fruit in mixing bowl and combine.
- Beat the egg lightly and add to buttermilk.
- Pour egg/buttermilk mixture and melted butter into dry ingredients and mix well.
- Press the dough evenly into the pan.
- Sprinkle with additional flax seeds.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until lightly browned around edges.
- Remove from oven, let cool in pan about 10 minutes.
- Turn the entire pan of rusks out onto a cutting board.
- Using a serrated knife, cut into rectangles about 3 inches long and an inch wide.
- Place the rusks onto a baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees for about 30 minutes.
- Turn the oven off and leave the rusks in it overnight.