I love food. I love cooking. I love baking. Most of all, I love eating, and I think my favourite thing in the world is a rusk. A rusk is a very South African thing. A dry, ugly, high fibre, fattening carb, that I simply will never be able to live without. A rusk is dipped in your (usually morning) coffee or tea, and soaked for a few seconds until just soft enough to bite off easily, but not mushy.
I start panicking when I see that my rusks are running low.
When we decided to stop eating sugar, I was a little devastated. Not because of the chocolate, ice cream or milkshakes that I would be going without, but because of my rusks. My morning companion, helping me enter the day with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. I literally wake up thinking about rusks (sometimes). But then I met someone who bakes sugar free rusks, without artificial sweetener: with dates! Duh!? Dates are like the sweetest and tastiest thing on earth, after rusks.
So I put a few recipes together and came up with this one. I use stone ground rye flour because I believe it’s healthier. It’s obviously not gluten free. But I feel good eating, and therefore using, rye. I’m sure you could substitute it with gluten free flour.
Here is the recipe:
5CUPS RYE FLOUR
5CUPS OAT BRAN OR OATS CHOPPED IN THE FOOD PROCESSOR
1.5CUPS WALNUTS OR PECAN NUTS (WALNUTS ARE CHEAPER AT THE MOMENT), CHOPPED
3 HANDFULS OF ANY SEEDS OF YOUR CHOICE, I USE WHATEVER I HAVE: PUMPKIN SEEDS, SUNFLOWER SEEDS, SESAME SEEDS ETC.
1.5 CUPS COCONUT FLAKES
500G DATE PUREE: PLACE DATES IN FOOD PROCESSOR WITH A SMALL AMOUNT OF BOILING WATER AND MUSH, I DO 250G REALLY FINE, AND 250G LESS FINE.
1 RIPE BANANA (BLEND WITH DATES)
500ML BUTTERMILK/AMASI/PLAIN YOGHURT
500G SALTED BUTTER, MELTED
1T BAKING POWDER
1t BAKING SODA
1t CREAM OF TARTAR
JUICE OF ONE LEMON
Oven 180˚C. I don’t preheat mine to save electricity. It’s always hot way before I’m done with my batter.
Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Blend eggs, amasi and butter together. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Squeeze lemon juice into batter. Get your hands dirty and knead, knead, knead until you are sure that all the ingredients are well mixed.
Grease rusk pan. At the moment I’m using spray and cook (not eco-friendly) that I bought ages ago, but when that’s finished I’ll just use butter. I have a really nice rusk pan, obviously. It has a ‘cutter’ the size of the pan, that pre-cuts the batter into rusk sized pieces so I can easily break them apart after baking.
But you can use any large shallow oven proof baking sheet, approximately 3cm high. You can then cut your batter before baking, or simply cut the baked rusks into desired pieces after baking. Spread the batter nicely and evenly making sure to press the batter into the corners.
Bake for 40 minutes. Test whether the rusks are cooked through.
Let the rusks cool so you can handle them easily. Break/ cut into rusk sized pieces and place directly onto the rack in the oven. Set your oven on 70˚C and leave them to dry for at least 5-8 hours (I put a spoon in the oven door to let out the moisture). Check regularly so they aren’t over dry. But they need to be quite dry in order to last and soak up all that yummy coffee (or tea). Place in an airtight container, preferably not plastic.
And tomorrow morning, when you arise, dunk that rusk into your favourite brewed roast, and bite into the heavenly goodness that is a Rye and Date rusk.