We have a few beloved delicacies, such as biltong, melktert, snoek and jam tarts (and many more), and you will find these in homes, recipe books and expat shops wherever you'll find a Saffa accent. Not that the above is totally unique, mind you. Just replace the above with jerky, custard tart, barramundi and empanada, and you know what I'm talking about.
But the rusk, now the rusk! Basically, it's just a very rustic form of that other double-baked goodie, the Italian biscotti, and the Afrikaans term "beskuit" isn't far from its roots. But it leaves many a foreign visitor bewilderd when coming face to face with his first rusk.
A German friend still laughs when remembering her reaction when faced with her morning coffee accompanied by a rusk on her first morning in South Africa. When she couldn't figure out what it was and what to do with it, she carefully wrapped it in toilet paper and hid at the bottom of the bin!
We love our rusks in many and varied forms, but one of nicest, and basic (and the only one I've mastered!) is the Buttermilk Bran rusk. It's as easy as a pie and I give thanks to my friend Anina every time I make my variation of her recipe:
Buttermilk Bran Rusks
1 kg self-raising flour
4 cups oat bran
125 ml dessicated (shredded) coconut
250 ml sugar
250 ml nuts (usually flaked almonds)
handful of dried cranberries
10 ml baking powder
pinch of salt
(I also add a handful of pumpkin seeds, sunfloowers seeds, linseed, sesame seed, or whatever I have to hand).
500 ml buttermilk / maas
500 gr margerine/butter, melted
Stir all dry items to mix thoroughly.
Beat eggs, add buttermilk and margerine.
Add to dry ingredients.
Place in large, shallow oven pan.
Bake @ 180 C for 30 min.
Slice into pieces and place on oven racks.
Dry at 100 C for 3 hours, or 80C overnight.
Enjoy with your morning cuppa!
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... on to the drying rack:
... in the oven to dry:
...and ready for morning tea;