Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rusks (South African Cookies)


I really enjoy learning about other cultures through their cuisines. With the recent South African wine dinner I hosted this past weekend, I've learned how immigrants really influenced the South Africans, especially through food. This recipe is very much like Italian biscotti. An interesting point in this recipe is the use of buttermilk, whereas most biscotti recipes are made without any liquid aside from eggs. Oddly enough, even with the addition of nearly a cup of buttermilk, these cookies still had the same crispy consistency as biscotti. South Africans enjoy these rusks with a warm cup of Rooibos tea. Now that's an afternoon snack anyone can enjoy, regardless of what part of the world you're in...


Rusks
(South African Cookies)
recipe adapted from South African Recipes



2 cups unbleached white flour
2 cups whole wheat bread flour (coarsely ground if possible)
1/3 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. pure almond extract


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix the dry ingredients.

Combine all the wet ingredients, pour them into the dry ingredients, and stir until you have a soft dough, similar to biscuit dough.

Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and roll or pat it to about a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut the dough into rectangles about 2 by 4 inches.

Bake the rusks about 2 inches apart on buttered baking sheet for about 25 minutes until the tops are crisping and browning a little.

Now, eat a few "soft" rusks warm from the oven. Loosely pile the rusks on a baking sheet and keep them in a 200 degree oven all day or all night (about 12 hours) to dry. The finished rusks should be very dry and hard.

Cool and store in an airtight container. Rusks will keep for weeks.

Variations

Oatmeal-Raisin Rusks: Reduce the white flour to 1 1/2 cups and add 2 cups rolled oats and 1/2 cup currants or chopped raisins.

Almond Rusks: Add 1 cup chopped almonds and omit the cinnamon.

Peanut Rusks: Add 1 cup coarsely chopped peanuts.

Anise Rusks: Omit the cinnamon and almond extract and add 2 tsp. pure anise extract or 1 Tbsp. anisette.