I never truly appreciated a rusk. That was until I moved to the States and realized how my coffee and rusk as a morning snack had become my go to. When I mentioned making rusks to Sam, he told me to give it a go. I had never made rusks before let alone vegan rusks but how hard could it be right? This is what I tell myself every time before attempting to create something I have never made. I had two attempts and while the first one was okay the second one was amazing and I’m excited to share with you a simple South African vegan rusk recipe. Vegans in South Africa – your welcome.
So what is this thing you call a rusk?
A rusk is a hard biscuit that gets baked twice and is similar to biscotti. These go back to the good ‘ol days when people had to get creative with food preserving for long travels and wars. My guess is that someone was once on a boat and had to eat dried out bread. They dunked it in tea and low and behold, the mighty rusk was born. When researching rusks, I discovered that these go back as far as the 1690s which is a pretty long time ago. Since then, the recipe has come a long way and is no longer stale bread. Although one thing has remained constant and that is dipping a rusk into tea or coffee. YUM!
Are rusks only a South African thing?
To my own surprise, rusks are found in slightly different variations all around the world. In South Africa we call it a biskuit in Afrikaans which has the direct translation of biscuit. Sweden calls theirs a Skorpor and flavours them with herbs, spices or nuts and dried fruit. Turkey calls theirs a peksimet, the UK calls them a Butcher rusk – I had to laugh at this one – due to the crumbs going into sausage. Portugal calls theirs a tosta and is more savory and Russia’s is called a sookhar. It would seem true that back in the days, bread and food in general was valuable and nothing was ever wasted. I really wish this was true for our current century.
What does it taste like?
I cannot speak for the worlds rusks, however a South African rusk tastes like a slightly sweet bread. Most traditional recipes I found call for buttermilk and to be honest I can’t remember what buttermilk tastes like on its own. In the vegan world, whenever a recipe calls for buttermilk, I will use a plant based milk and add apple cider vinegar to it. This curdles and thickens up the milk and it’s useful in so many baking recipes. My pancake recipe used this method.
But Amy, is this recipe REALLY easy and simple?
I speak to myself in third person a lot. It sounds good in my head and then I laugh about it thinking it’s such a Split thing. By the way who has seen the movie Split and the new Glassman? I went to watch it this week and LOVED it! Okay back to rusks, this recipe is easy. You don’t need any electric equipment and once your ingredients are weighed out all you have to do it hand mix, pat into a tray and bake. The baking takes a while and this was the reason my first batch didn’t turn out so well. A crunchy on the outside and soft inside doesn’t make for a good rusk. Luckily dear husband ate them all regardless.
Rusks take a long time to bake. They have to be in a low temperature oven for a few hours. So while the recipe is easy, paying attention to oven time and making these on a day when you are staying home is a must.
What does twice baked mean?
Rusk making is similar to granola making. You have to bake them on high for a short time period and then reduce the heat and let it bake for a long period. After baking on high for 10-15 minutes, you need to remove the rusks, lower the oven temperature and cut the rusks before popping back into the oven for 3-4 hours. Yup! That’s how long it takes, maybe even longer if you cut them thicker. So to conserve energy I recommend making 2 or three batches depending on how big your oven is. I can fit 2 standard trays in my oven.
Good luck and get ready for many enjoyable coffee and rusk moments.
South African Vegan Rusk Recipe
- 3 Cups All purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp Baking powder
- 1 Cup Brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp Chia seeds Optional
- 1/4 Cup Sunflower seeds Optional
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 Cup Almond milk or Soya milk
- 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Cup Organic coconut oil Melted
- 1 tsp vegan egg replacer see notes*
- Pre heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 Degrees Celsius
- In a mixing bowl add all your dry ingredients and stir.
- In another bowl add all your wet ingredients. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry while stiring slowly. Now it’s time to get messy.
- Mix the ingredients together with your hands until combined. Spray a pan lightly with oil and pat down the mixture forming a square.
- Make sure your mixture is about 1,5cm thick or less than 1 inch. It will rise in the oven.
- Pop into the heated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until the top of the rusks are going golden.
- Remove from the oven, lower the temperature to 220 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius. Cut your rusks using a sharp knife into logs and separate them slightly so that they will bake through.
- Pop back into the oven for 3-4 hours. I like to check on them every hour. They will feel slightly soft in the oven but when you pull them out and they cool off, that’s when they turn hard.