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Monday, October 25, 2010

Aniseed Rusks

I haven’t been posting regularly since we haven’t been camping much this year, but as the year draws to a close, my thoughts turn to holidays and food. Absolute bliss, I can’t wait to pack our caravan and head out into the fresh air for some peace and quiet.

As we usually camp somewhere remote, I have to plan our meals carefully, and take everything along. (For more on planning meals, please look HERE). I do a lot of baking before we go, to make sure that there is plenty to snack on – somehow, being in the open air, and getting lots of exercise, makes one so much hungrier!

I always bake a batch of rusks to take with. Rusks are a South African tradition, a sweet bread-dough, formed into little balls and baked in a loaf tin, then separated, and dried out over-night in a low oven. The crisp, sweet rusks are absolutely delicious dunked into a cup of coffee, or tea, and make an excellent quick breakfast.

Rusks come in many variations - I am sharing my mother's recipe, which she got from her mother. It’s easier than most recipes, being made with self-raising flour, not yeast. Rusks are often made with buttermilk or muesli, too.

This batch is a classic aniseed rusk, another firm favourite in SA, and my favourite too.  If you don't like aniseed, leave it out.

Aniseed Rusks

3 x 500 grs packets self-raising flour
1 dsp salt
250 grs butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 + 1 cups of milk
3 eggs
2 or 3 tbsps aniseed
  • Mix together the flour and salt, rub in the butter.
  • Dissolve the sugar in 2 cups of milk (set the other cup of milk aside, to use if your mixture is too dry).
  • Cool the milk mix to luke-warm.
  • Whisk the eggs, beat into the milk and sugar.
  • Stir the milk mixture into the flour with a wooden spoon, adding extra milk if needed.
  • Turn out onto a floured surface, knead very well, at least 150 times! until smooth and elastic (even though it’s not a yeast mixture, this step is necessary).
  • Squeeze off balls of dough, tuck them into greased pans (the batch will fill 3 loaf tins)

  • Bake at 180˚C until well-risen and golden brown.

  • Turn out onto cake racks, cool until you can comfortably handle the loaves.

  • Very gently ease the rusks apart, and lay out onto your oven racks to dry.
  • Dry out for at least 12 hours at a very low heat, 50˚C, leaving the oven open a crack to allow air to circulate.

I usually pack the rusks in the oven at night, and leave them until morning, then turn the oven off and leave them to cool completely. Test them the next morning (have one with a cup of coffee!) or break it in half to make sure they are dried out right through. When they are completely cold, pack them into air-tight containers, they will keep several weeks.

Rusks are delicious dunked in an early-morning cup of coffee, especially when you are camping, or as an afternoon snack.

Happy camping!