south african rusks 🇿🇦

Sunday, September 2, 2018

When I found out that the German word Zwieback actually means twice baked bread, my mind was BLOWN. It’s pretty obvious, but … well. Anyway, what we call “Zwieback” in Germany is called a “Rusk” in South Africa. I’ve been traveling around Southern Africa with my parents as a child and teenager and we’ve met a lot of lovely people on our travels – including a bunch of South African families with whom we also went on a couple of trips around South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana. They were practically cooking non-stop and introduced us to a lot of very delicious foods. No matter if breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner, they always made an effort to prepare a huge variety of things.

Something seemingly unremarkable we got introduced to were rusks. They’re eaten as a snack or quick breakfast with tea (you can also dunk them if that’s something you enjoy doing ⚓️) – and are ideal for traveling, because they basically don’t go off. The only thing that can happen is that they crumble to pieces, because they’re very hard, dry and, well … crumbly. Doesn’t sound too good? They actually do taste delicious with a nice cup of tea, promise.
A few weeks ago, I made some rusks for my Dad to take with him on holiday to Zambia and Botswana and of course, I also kept some for myself. (Sorry, Dad.) And since I know you guys love baking (and eating) I thought I’d share my recipe with you. It is not vegan per se, but you can make a few adjustments to make it so. 🍪

This is as easy as it gets, but you have to keep in mind that the rusks are (as previously mentioned) twice baked, so it takes some time until they’re done. But first things first.
Preheat your oven to around 200°C, then get your dry ingredients and mix them all together in a big mixing bowl. In case you want to make vegan rusks, prepare your egg-substitute and mix water and soy milk and let it rest for a few minutes. Since I made the rusks for my Dad, I got some organic eggs and used those. Beyond that, all of the other ingredients are vegan.

After that I whisked the eggs for a bit and mixed them with the remaining wet ingredients – the margarine (or coconut oil, if you prefer), and the oat milk. I have to say that the raisins and the cinnamon are my own invention and aren’t part of the original recipe. I have a problem with following recipes, as you might know, so I always end up adding or replacing something. I also just thought that you could add grated coconut for an even better taste. 🤔

Anyways, I’m getting sidetracked here. After you’ve mixed the wet ingredients together, add them to the dry ones slowly, whilst kneading everything together thoroughly. It is honestly as simple as that.
My dough ended up being quite sticky to be honest – too much experimenting, maybe? So instead of adding more flour, to make the pastry roll-able, I put the mixture in a baking dish – make sure to line it with baking parchment first – and left the cutting up of the pastry untill after the first round of baking, which you do for 25 minutes at ~ 160-180°C.

After you’ve taken the baking dish out of the oven, let it rest and cool down completely before you cut the (so far once baked bread) into bite sized squares or rectangles. I didn’t want mine to get too crumbly so I cut them not too small. 🐭 Next, spread your little rusks on a baking tray (again, lined with baking perchament) to bake (or rather dry) them for the second time, which I suggest you do over night.
I turned my oven to 75°C and slowly dried my rusks for around 12 hours. Yes, correct, twelve hours.
If you have any loose teeth, you’re for sure going to lose them whilst munching on these rusks. But their dryness is actually what makes them ideal for traveling – they stay good for a very long time and you don’t have to refrigerate them or anything. 🐫🏜

And here we are. After the rusks had completely cooled off, I carefully wrapped them and sent them off to my Dad, who was very pleased. And although I’m not traveling through Southern Africa anytime soon, I’ve been enjoying the few rusks I’ve nicked with a nice cup of tea – especially during these past slightly colder days. ☕️

Let me know if you try the recipe – I’d be very interested in seeing your results! 💕

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