The history of rusks dates back to early pioneering days of South Africa where food had to be preserved in such a way that it would last for a long time. South Africa however is not the only country that has a dish like this – the Italian version is called biscotti (more refined than the South African rusk).
We usually have our first cup of coffee with a rusk and it is a good kick start to the morning. Kids snack on them throughout the day.
Olga has been working for me for a few years, she just has the special touch for mixing the butter and flour (you have to rub it in, it must feel like really fine crumbs).
Buttermilk Rusk recipe
1.5 kg self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
500g margarine or butter, room temperature
2 cups of sugar
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Add the room temperature butter or margarine and work it in with your fingers.
It must feel like crumbs then you will know it is mixed well.
Mix the egg and the buttermilk and add to the flour-butter mixture.
Mix everything together until you get a dough like mixture. It will need a little bit of kneading,
not so much as kneading bread, but just to get everything mixed together.
Put the batter in a oven pan or bread pans. You can spread it out evenly or make little round balls.
Bake until golden brown. 180 C for about 35-40 minutes.
Once out of the pans, let it cool on a cooling rack.
Cut it into slices when completely cooled and dry it out in a cool oven (80 C) for 4 hours. NS: you can replace 500g of the flour with 500 g of bran/ seeds, nuts, cranberries to make a healthier rusk. I usually take about 3 cups bran, 2 cups rolled oats and the rest of the weight I make up in seeds or cranberries.
Instead of rubbing the butter in, you melt the butter and sugar together and add it to the buttermilk and egg mixture. Then you add it to the dry ingredients and mix everything together.