Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rusks and last of the World Cup Fever

Here in SA everybody is sort of breathing slowly as the end of the World Cup looms. It has been such a fantastic few weeks that few people want it to end. Most of us just want it to last a little bit longer. To have the tourist and celebs and royalty here for just a few more days. To have this feeling of euphoria and 'Feel it, it is here' feeling just a while longer. But alas, on Sunday it is Spain vs Nederland and the closing ceremony.

This Cup has been good for our country on so many levels and I am not even going to begin to go into the politics and economy of it all. But one thing it did also do, was to encourage South Africans to look at our own roots again and to relish the foods and colors and clothes that make this diverse nation tick. Suddenly traditional foods have been popping up on restaurant menus and supermarket shelves and dinner party conversation. Milk tart and malva pudding, pap and sheba, morogo, koeksisters and souskluitjies. And rusks.
We are a nation of rusk eaters. It is the sort of thing you dunk in your coffee at the office. Nothing glamorous, but heart-warmingly delicious. A bowl of rusks and a few cups of steaming coffee makes people smile. It just does.

I grew up baking a batch every fortnight or so. And I still do. But the majority of people opt for the store bought versions these days. Yes, I know it takes a bit of time and yes I know we are all busy. But I checked when I baked these yesterday and it took me fifteen minutes from start to finish. That is fifteen minutes towards the best rusk you will eat this year. Fresh, with good quality ingredients and a choice of flavors. Come on, give it a try.

There are many recipes for rusks. This is the one I grew up with.

Helath Rusks
500g butter or margarine
3 cups of light brown sugar
3 eggs
2 x 500ml buttermilk
1 kg self raising flour
1 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup almond or pecan flour
500g All Bran flakes

Melt the butter/ margarine and sugar of a low heat.
In a big mixing bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and buttermilk. Add the butter mixture to this and mix again.
Stir in the flour and mix until well combined, before adding the other ingredients one by one to form a lumpy batter.
Pour into the loaf pans (I use a custom rusk tray, available most catering outlets) and flatten gently. Bake at 180°C for about 40 minutes. Let cool completely for a few hours before slicing and return to a cool oven 70°C for a few hours until dry.
Store in a tight sealing container for up to a month.

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