In keeping with our South African heritage I would like to share my recipe for homemade wheat-free rusks. For those who don’t know what a rusk is, think along the lines of a biscotti biscuit, but bigger and chunkier. It is a twice baked biscuit, first the batter is baked in cake form then cut into chunks and then left in a low temperature oven to dry out until hard.
Why dry? Well there lies the secret to how to eat them, served with a cup of tea or coffee then dunked….it is all in the timing of the dunk though, leave it in too long and the rusk will get soggy and break off into your cuppa. Many a South African childhood has been spent calculating the perfect dunking time, if all else fails then a teaspoon to scoop out the bits from the bottom is all that is needed.
When we lived in Cape Town, I used to buy my rusks from either a supermarket or a home industry shop, therefore not having a need to make my own. Now, between living in the UK and following a paleo lifestyle, I have been forced to take matters into my own hands and bring out the Ouma in me (Ouma is Afrikaans for Granny and traditionally the bakers of great homemade rusks). I have to say, my family are loving my homemade version, had I known just how easy they are to make I probably would have attempted to make them years ago (although I can’t say my cooking skills were that good back then).
Rusks are perfect for a breakfast on the run and ideal if you are planning a camping trip. Pack them in an airtight container and whip them out with morning coffee or bedtime tea around the camp fire, I guarantee that you will fast become the most popular person on camp.
Whip up the wet ingredients then add the dry ones, combine well and transfer the batter into a lined roasting/baking tray and bake until golden brown
Remove the tray from the oven and leave to cool down slightly, just enough to be able to cut into chunks
Lift the paper out of the baking tray, lay it on a flat surface and cut into rectangles of about 10cm x 4cm in size
Line up the rusks on a parchment lined baking tray (I used a silicone mat) with a little space between each
Turn the oven down to 80ºC and bake for a further 4 hours. My family prefer a rusk that is soft in the center, if you prefer a harder one then leave them in for a few more hours or turn the oven to 50ºC and leave them in overnight. Once dry and hard, remove from the oven, cool and store in an airtight container.
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