This recipe is for buttermilk rusks, one of the snacks you were offered if you attended the launch party for the boxed set of devotional books, In All things. The boxed set is no longer available, but you can get the paperback here.
13 weeks of devotions from Christian authors of South Africa, including Anna Jensen, Ann Goodfellow, Crystal Warren, Deryn van der Tang, Dianne J. Wilson, Marion Ueckermann, Shirley Corder, Val Waldeck, Vida li Sik, and Yvonne Tippins.
The South African karringmelk (buttermilk) rusk can be compared to American biscotti, but they are, in fact, only distant cousins.
The S.African rusk evolved from early Cape settlement and from the pioneers making their laborious and dangerous trip inland from the coast via ox-wagons. They are extremely hard, almost inedible unless dipped (or dunked) in hot coffee, or as in our case at the In All Things launch party, Rooibos Tea. (Learn about Rooibos tea over at Anna Jensen’s blog by clicking on the link.)
So now let’s make rusks!
Sorry the ingredients are metric, but that’s our method of measurement in SA.(See Conversion Table here.)
3kg self-raising flour
2 x 500g butter
2 x 500ml buttermilk
8 eggs (beaten well)
1 desert-spoon baking powder
2.5 cups sugar
2 teaspoon salt
Mix self-raising flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl.
Melt butter and sugar together slowly (body temperature ONLY).
Pour the melted mixture into flour mixture.
Add beaten eggs.
Press into oven pans about 1.5cm high.
“Cut” into rusks about width and length of adult middle finger by pushing a long flat object (eg. ruler or egg lifter) into the dough to separate the dough. Do not try to cut with a knife – the dough will just drag.
Bake for around 1 hour in a 165 degree Celsius preheated oven. Stick a toothpick in and if it comes out clean, they’re ready. If not and the rusks are browning, cover with foil and bake longer.
Once baked, remove and break into separate biscuits along pressed lines.
Place back into the oven pan, stacking biscuits loosely and dry overnight in a 70 degree Celsius oven.
Make sure to wedge something in the oven door that will keep the oven open fractionally—about a centimeter—so that there is airflow to dry the rusks slowly.
How to eat a rusk:
Once rusks are ready, grab a cup of coffee (or rooibos tea – follow this link to read more), dunk and enjoy! There’s a knack to dunking. Dip the rusk too long and it’ll break off in your hot drink. Too short and you could just break a tooth! Dip twice before popping the end into your mouth. And keep a teaspoon handy to fish out any errant pieces that bob to the surface of your drink.