Today Root Simple is proud to present a contribution (and amazing photo!) from photographer, velolutionary, and Culver-Town homesteader Elon Schoenholz:
Rusks are sturdy biscuits of Dutch South African origin, slightly sweetened and heartily nonperishable. Like biscotti, they’re double-baked, dry and crunchy; unlike the chocolate-dipped and plastic-wrapped crap on the counter at Starbucks, however, homemade rusks are practical, nourishing and inexpensive. The version we prefer, with chopped almonds, is subtly delicious. Stored in an airtight container, rusks are good to eat for 2-3 weeks. We enjoy dipping them in our coffee. Also, they’re great cycling snacks because you can throw them in a jersey pocket; they’re good all day without refrigeration; and they provide a quick simple-carb fix, as well as protein and complex carbs.
The recipe we use is from the “Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant: Ethnic and Regional Recipes From the Cooks at the Legendary Restaurant”
To make the most of your time and maximize energy efficiency, bake two batches and stack them all up together for the 12-hour dry-a-thon following the initial 25-minute bake. You’ll end up with about 20 pieces from a single batch, and they go pretty fast. While rusks historically were created as hot-weather food, baking them during the winter is more pleasant because you end up having the oven on all day or night.
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 cups whole wheat bread flour (the recipe calls for coarsely ground whole wheat flour but we use all-purpose whole wheat flour and then add 2 tablespoons wheat germ and 2 tablespoons ground flax seed)
1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup chopped almonds
½ cup melted butter
¾ cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
preheat oven to 400º
In a large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients
In another mixing bowl, mix the wet ingredients
Pour the wet into the dry and stir until you have a soft dough
Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and roll or pat it to a ½-inch thickness
Cut the dough into 2×4-inch rectangles
Bake about an inch and half to 2 inches apart on buttered (parchment paper will work, too) baking sheets for 25 minutes
After you’re finished baking the rusks, pile them up pyramid-style on a baking sheet, throw them in the oven, turn the dial to 200º and come back in 12 hours
Pointers for first-time bakers:
- Mix the dry ingredients, then the wet, and then mix them together.
- Make sure to mix the wet and dry ingredients well, but once you combine wet and dry, don’t overmix or the dough can become tough.
- Pour the vanilla and almond extracts into the butter first and then add the butter to the rest of the wet ingredients, as the fat will encase and preserve the flavor.
- When rolling out the dough, use flour on the rolling pin and on the dough to prevent sticking.