I came across this recipe whilst sorting through stacks of scribbled papers headed for the recycle collection last July. I then proceeded to spend the rest of the warm months (which are quite a bit longer on this side of the pond than I’m used to) longing for the cooler months to arrive if only so that I could leave the oven on all night in order to bake these crunchy little South African biscuits. Now of course I’m desperate for the summer months to break the cold so that I can buy decent tomatoes again and discard my North Face Eskimo-style coat. I put the recipe in a ‘safe’ place but low and behold it managed to get lost in the wire-works a second time during our move in November. I tore my hair out(and the little that Don has) over what disorganised lives we lead and in doing having torn through every notebook and file I own, I noticed it right in front of me- posted to my pin board. Fortunately, this was prior to my recent lovers tiff with my oven, which resulted in its tragic and untimely death by cookies I managed try this recipe for rusks (phew). I can only urge you to do the same before the summer comes or worse yet your oven has enough of all the hard work it does and ups and leaves you too.
Don’t be deceived by the name, which makes these biscuits sound like something you would eat to get your bowels moving and I assure you they are not (healthy that is- I won’t comment on the results of their fiber content). Think of them as the biscotti of Africa- though a little less sweet and rough at the edges. Of course, you can add more sugar, raisins and nuts but for me plain and simple dunked into a steaming cup of PG tips is the best way. The recipe was given to me by the chef at the Tuningi lodge we stayed in in Madikwe Game Reserve, who I haranged all week in order to get a copy. The measurements were a little funny so I simplified them and I cannot tell you how smug I felt when these came out tasting just how I had remembered them! For some reason my Thai and Indian culinary ventures haven’t come out with the quite the same authenticity.
If you like something crunchy or a biscuit perfect for dipping into your afternooon brew then these are for you. Please don’t let the long cooking time put you off, distract yourself with somethingelse- like sleep perhaps and wake up to the glorious smells of homemade goods! This recipe is easily doubled (but hold back on the salt and baking powder) for those who can’t wait another day for a new batch. Store in airtight containers out of sight!
Adapted from the Tuningi Game Lodge recipe, South Africa
Difficulty: patience is a virtue
450g/ 3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups bran flakes
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
125g/9 tbsp butter
140g/ 3/4 cup sugar
125ml/ 1/2 cup vegetable oil or canola oil
250ml/1 cup buttermilk
1/ Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Mix together in the flour, bran flakes, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
2/ Melt the butter, sugar and oil in a saucepan. Stir the mixture until all the sugar is dissolved
3/ Beat the eggs with the buttermilk and add to the melted butter mixture. Add the butter and buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. fill your greased loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes until lightly golden a skewer comes out clean.
4/ Turn out the pan and allow to cool. Turn the oven down to 100C/200F/Gas 1. Cut into finger shaped rusks, about 1 inch thick. Place cut side up on a baking tray (preferably one with holes) and place back into the oven overnight, or for 8 hours.
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