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The Danes call them ‘Tvebak’, the French call them ‘biscotte’, but we’re sure you’ll agree that there’s nothing quite like a South African rusk! Other brands exist, but Ouma is to rusks what Colgate is to toothpaste: it’s the benchmark and a staple in many South African homes (yes, even the Capetonians with the missing front teeth).

The modern rusk has evolved from the Dutch settlers in the early Cape colony with its roots in Afrikaner culture.  The Dutch ‘beskuit’ was popular with seamen from passing ships who looked forward to the tasty treat after weeks spent at sea. The ‘beskuit’ was adapted to suit local ingredients and methods and quickly became an Afrikaans classic. However, it was only in 1939 that the famous Ouma rusk was born. The local church in the small town of Molteno wanted to help the townswomen support their families in the aftermath of the Great Depression. One of these townswomen was Ouma Greyvensteyn, who decide to begin a rusk factory. The company eventually was sold to Foodcorp, which still runs a rusk factory in the original town of Molteno.

Typically eaten as a breakfast food, the fuel of the nation may as well be Ouma rusks and rooibos tea. Because what is a rusk without a hot cup of tea to dunk it in? Dipping your rusk into your beverage is a fine art that requires hours of practice to perfect. You want your rusk to be warm and soft, not too soggy, so it falls into the cup and ruins your tea, and not too hard, so you have to gnaw at it.

Your mouth must be watering at the thought of a warm, soft, flavourful rusk and a hot cup of tea. Don’t stress, we’ve got two lekker rusk recipes for you to try at home! Even if you have no luck in the kitchen, these South African rusk recipes are foolproof.

South African rusk recipe

The classic South African rusk

You can’t go wrong with a classic, plain South African rusk for brekkie. This recipe calls for basic pantry ingredients and can be whipped up in an hour. All-Bran flakes can be replaced with cornflakes or Weetbix, but rusks are known to be a good source of fiber; hence bran is preferred.

What you need

  • 500 grams of softened butter
  • 1 to 3/2 cups of sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 kg self raising flour
  • 750 grams of crushed All Bran flakes
  • 350 ml milk

What to do

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, eggs and salt.
  • Whisk the mixture well until everything is incorporated.
  • Add the flour and All Bran flakes and mix roughly with a wooden spoon.
  • Lastly, add the milk while mixing with the spoon.
  • At this point, you can use your hands to knead the mixture and bring everything together into a soft dough.
  • Prepare a baking tray with nonstick spray, push the batter in the pan more or less 15mm thick, levelled out.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into rusk-shaped rectangles before baking.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees Celsius for about 45 minutes, until brown.
  • Remove the rusks, and arrange them on an oven tray to dry out for approximately five hours or overnight in your oven set to 70 – 100 degrees Celsius.

Indulge in a deluxe rusk!

If you’re not one for plain rusks, or you want to switch things up a little, you can try our deluxe rusk recipe. These rusks are perfect for breakfast or a tea-time treat. You can swap out any of the added ingredients if you don’t have it in your pantry or you’d prefer something else. You can even create batches of unique flavours, like chocolate and coconut or fruit and nut.

What you need

  • 1 kg self-raising flour
  • 8 ml baking powder
  • 8 ml salt
  • 250 ml muesli
  • 250 ml digestive bran
  • 375 ml brown sugar
  • 500 ml plain yoghurt
  • 500 g melted butter
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Additional ingredients

  • 100 g raisins
  • 100 g of dark chocolate chips
  • 100 g chopped dried fruit
  • 100 ml sesame seeds or sunflower seeds (or both)
  • 300 ml coconut

What to do

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
  • Separately, combine the yoghurt, melted butter and beaten eggs.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix to form a soft dough.
  • Press dough in a greased roasting pan or two large oven trays.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.
  • Bake at 180 degrees Celsius until golden brown (about 50 minutes in roasting pan or 40 minutes in oven trays).
  • Cut into rusks and spread out on oven trays.  Leave to dry out in the warming drawer overnight (or in the oven for about 5 hours at 100 degrees Celsius).

Storing and serving your rusks

Each recipe makes about 64 rusks or roughly 2 kilograms of rusks. After cooling, the rusks should be stored in an airtight container in the pantry. Your rusks will be good to eat for about a month after baking, but we’re sure they’ll be long gone before then! Enjoy a rusk or two dunked in a piping hot cup of tea, coffee, or milo for breakfast, as a tea time treat, or sneaky midnight snack.

Expert financial advice for expats right here at FinGlobal

At FinGlobal, we’re dedicated to ensuring that your financial emigration process is not as hard as your rusks. Emigrating can become a confusing and complicated process, and you may find yourself in a few ‘rusky’ situations if you’re not careful. But, bad rusk puns aside, we have ten years of experience and expertise in helping South African expats with all of their financial and tax worries. To discuss your unique needs with our team, simply get in touch with us. Give us a call on +27 28 312 2764 or send us an email at info@finglobal.com.