This short blog is for all those conservation volunteers who have helped out on one of the various Wildlife ACT projects in South Africa. Whether it’s the early morning session tracking the lion prides of Tembe Elephant Park, or anti-snaring sessions for the African wild dogs in Mkhuze Game Reserve – there is that one moment where we stop to reflect. What would this moment be without the morning coffee and RUSKS.
Take the morning’s work in and spend a moment surrounded by the cacophony of the African bush – silence when compared to our noisy world, but a soothing collection of insect and animal sounds. Every volunteer arrives in South Africa for the first time ready to experience new things – but return home clothed in new knowledge in conservation and an addiction to these tasty morsels so freely dipped into the morning coffee. For those who haven’t had the chance to experience the bliss that is the rusk – rusks are a traditional South African treat that is dipped into morning coffee or tea to sooth the growing hunger synonymous with a hard days’ work in the bush.
The original buttermilk rusks remain a favourite – but one can also choose from muesli, condensed milk, toffee and condensed milk, aniseed, black forest and a host of other flavours. So without further ado – here are a few recipes for those suffering major withdrawal pangs:
RUSK RECIPE ONE: TRADITIONAL BUTTERMILK RUSKS
“This is a traditional yeast-baked rusk – great for dunking in your tea or coffee early in the morning when you watch the sun rise as the boer trekkers did every morning when they traveled from the Cape to the Transavaal. If the rusks are to be kept for a long time, do not substitute margarine for the butter.”
Buttermilk Rusk Recipe Ingredients
- 375g butter
- 500g sugar
- 2 extra large eggs
- 1,5kg self-raising flour
- 30ml (2 tablespoons) baking powder
- 500ml (2 cups) buttermilk or plain drinking yogurt
Instructions on how to make Buttermilk Rusks
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Cream the butter and sugar together very well. Add the eggs, one at a time. Sift the flour and baking powder together, and add this to the creamed mixture, using a fork to mix. Add the buttermilk or yogurt, using a little milk to rinse out the carton. Mix well with a fork and then knead lightly. Pack lightly rolled, golf ball sized buns of the dough into the greased bread pans close together, and bake for 45-55 minutes. Place the pans in the middle of the oven, with a sheet of brown paper on the top shelf to protect the buns from becoming browned too quickly.
Remove the paper after the buns are well risen and cooked through, to brown the tops. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. Turn out the buns on to cake racks, cool them and separate them, using 2 forks. Pack them on wire racks or on cooled oven racks – air must circulate. Place them in the cool oven, leaving the door ajar, for 4-5 hours, or overnight, to dry out.
If no buttermilk or yogurt is available, use fresh milk curdled with lemon juice or white vinegar. Or Maas/ amasi such as Inkomazi (fermented cow’s milk similar to yogurt or cottage cheese – another South African product for those in the know).
RUSK RECIPE TWO: MUESLI RUSKS
“Muesli Rusks…nourishment for the soul on a cold winter’s day. These are similar to Woolworths Muesli Rusks -so very tasty and moreish! Feel free to add more or less raisins or nut or seeds to the mixture and remember you need to dry rusks out for about 10-12 hours in the oven overnight – put the oven onto 100°C and leave the door open slightly. The recipe is really easy, please don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients!”
Muesli Rusk Recipe Ingredients:
- 1 cup Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 500ml Buttermilk
- 500g Butter, melted
- 2 cups Nutty Wheat Flour
- 2 cups cake flour
- 4 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
- 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 4 cups muesli (I used Alpen Muesli with no added sugar)
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup flax seeds
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup raisins
- Beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy
- Add the buttermilk and melted butter to the eggs and sugar mixture and mix well.
- Add all the dry ingredients and mix together well.
- Now add the muesli, seeds and raisins and mix again to distribute well.
- Pour mixture into a greased baking dish with deep sides (about 5cm) and cook for +-45 minutes at 180°C
- Allow the rusks to cool and then cut into desired size.
- Dry rusks out for about 10-12 hours in the oven overnight – put the oven onto 100°C and leave the door open slightly.
Alternatively – those in major cities should be able to track down a South African store and buy a box or two – or even better – get on that aeroplane back to the bush! So get baking and enjoy the memories!
Let us know about your favourite moment in the bush – or your favourite flavour of rusk……Clint in Tembe