Buttermilk Rusks

I can’t think of a more South African biscuit than the humble rusk. We all love them and teach our kids to eat them. Dunking is a South African past time, rusks in tea, that is!

As soon as the weather turns cold, I can’t help but dig through my rusks recipes to start the great winter biscuit bake-off. Rusks need to be made in bulk, so there are plenty stored up for those cold mornings, wrapped in a warm blanket, hands warmed by a cup of tea or coffee, you dunk and enjoy until you feel ready to start the day.

This recipe makes about 90 rusks and can be easily doubled,if you wish. Start with a really big bowl to work in, as you will need space to rub the butter into the dry ingredients.

I’ve made my own buttermilk for this recipe, it’s as easy as putting vinegar or lemon juice in tepid milk. Let it sit for a few minutes before stirring it well. Of course, if you have buttermilk on hand, just use it instead of the milk and vinegar/lemon juice.

  • 1,250kg of white flour
  • 90ml baking powder
  • 8ml salt
  • 250g castor sugar
  • 375g butter, roughly cubed
  • 750ml milk
  • 30ml vinegar/lemon juice
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 160ºC and grease a 28cm x 38cm cake tin or casserole dish

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Warm the milk in the microwave only enough to take off the chill. Add the lemon juice or vinegar and allow to stand while you continue.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub into the dry ingredients until the mixture is like breadcrumbs.

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Stir the milk mixture and whisk in the egg, add to the flour and combine well.

The mixture will be very loose, it shouldn’t be too sticky. If it is too sticky, just add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it is less sticky. You don’t want a dry dough.

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Roll the dough into balls, about the size of a naartjie or for those of you who are not South African, a clementine.  Flour your hands before rolling. This is a great time to get your kids involved. They may eat more than they roll though.

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Bake for 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 150ºC and bake for  a further 30 to 35 minutes. The rusks should not be golden, but rather blonde on top.

Remove the rusks from the tin immediately and turn onto a wire rack. Pull them apart while they are warm and leave to cool completely.

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Once cool, place rusks, still on the wire rack into an oven set at 50ºC for about 6 to 8 hours. Overnight is always most suitable for this. Just in time for breakfast.

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Store in an airtight container.

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Buttermilk Rusks

  • 1,250kg of white flour
  • 90ml baking powder
  • 8ml salt
  • 250g castor sugar
  • 375g butter, roughly cubed
  • 750ml milk
  • 30ml vinegar/lemon juice
  • 1 egg
  1. Preheat oven to 160ºC and grease a 28cm x 38cm cake tin or casserole dish
  2. Warm the milk in the microwave only enough to take off the chill. Add the lemon juice or vinegar and allow to stand while you continue.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub into the dry ingredients until the mixture is like breadcrumbs.
  4. Stir the milk mixture and whisk in the egg, add to the flour and combine well.
  5. The mixture will be very loose, it shouldn’t be too sticky. If it is too sticky, just add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it is less sticky. You don’t want a dry dough.
  6. Roll the dough into balls, about the size of a naartjie or for those of you who are not South African, a clementine.  Flour your hands before rolling.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 150ºC and bake for  a further 30 to 35 minutes. The rusks should not be golden, but rather blonde on top.
  8. Remove the rusks from the tin immediately and turn onto a wire rack. Pull them apart while they are warm and leave to cool completely.
  9. Once cool, place rusks, still on the wire rack into an oven set at 50ºC for about 6 to 8 hours.
  10. Store in an airtight container.

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