So, I finally got around to making Oumie's rusks. Oumie's rusks are different to Ouma Rusks, in that the recipe comes from my Ouma, who I call Oumie, and they are so much tastier than the plain buttermilk South African rusks that most people buy. Oumie has been making these for many years... she makes huge batches of them and sells them to friends in Kriel (the mining town where my grandparents live in South Africa). I have many childhood memories being served a breakfast of tea and rusks in my grandparents' bed by Oupie (my granddad).
If you have not tried rusks before, they are like hard, dry biscuits (a bit like biscotti) that you need to dunk in tea or coffee to be able to eat them. They are usually eaten for breakfast or as a snack, and some people give them to babies to help with teething. I have only made them a couple of times now, and they take a long time to make, but I think they are totally worth the effort! If you store them in an airtight tin they will last ages, so are perfect for making in large batches and then grabbing as a quick breakfast. They are great for camping or festivals or to have with tea at work or on the train if you have a rushed morning. I halved the recipe as I haven't made them before, I didn't want to waste it if it flopped (my first batch was a bit of a flop, but we still ate them all!) and I have a really small kitchen!
Whether you make the whole recipe or halve it, you will need a very big mixing bowl, one or two large baking tins (I made half the mixture and used one 25x25cm deep tin) and one or two large baking trays for drying out the rusks.
2Kg Self-Raising Flour
2 level tsp Salt
4 and a half tsp Baking Powder
3/4 tsp Bicarb
3 cups Oats
2 cups Desiccated Coconut
6 cups Bran Flakes, crushed (measure before crushing)
4 cups Brown Sugar
2 cups Wheat Bran
1 Litre Buttermilk
1 and a half cups Sunflower Seeds (or any mixture of nuts and seeds)
1. Preheat oven to 170 deg.
2. Heat and stir the butter and sugar until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
3. In your large mixing bowl sieve the flour, salt, baking powder and bicarb, and then add the oats, coconut, crushed bran flakes, wheat bran and sunflower seeds and mix well.
4. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and stir in the buttermilk.
5. Add the melted butter/ sugar to the dry ingredients and mix, then add the egg/ buttermilk mixture and mix thoroughly with your hands ensuring there are no dry bits left. If you need to, you can add a drop of milk.
6. Grease your tin and line with baking paper. Pour your mixture in filling about 3/4's of the tin. It will not rise very much and you want your rusks to be quite high. Wet your hands to flatten and smooth the mixture.
7. Bake at 170 deg for 1hr. Test with a skewer - it should come out clean, so if it doesn't return to the oven and cook a bit longer. It should feel firm and springy.
8. As soon as it is cooked, take out and cool on a wire rack. When it is completely cool, cover with foil and leave until the next day.
9. Move the cake to a board or tray so that you can cut it up. If the sides look burnt you can cut them off. When you cut it, it will be quite firm, like a Christmas cake. Cut into long slices and then lie each slice on its side and cut into rusks.
10. Line the rusks standing up on a baking tray, leaving a little space between each rusk.
11. Dry them out in the oven at 90 deg for 5-6 hours. Put a teaspoon in the side of the oven door to keep it slightly open and avoid steaming the rusks.
12. Test by breaking a rusk apart - it should be completely dry.
This post is dedicated to Oumie - the best Ouma anyone could ask for! Thanks for all the good memories!