Bibliophile Lass (bibliogirl) wrote,
Bibliophile Lass

Childhood foodstuffs

My mother was born in South Africa, and so one of the tastes of her childhood was Ouma Rusks. These are not like the Farley's-type rusks that you might feed your small offspring while they're trying to figure out the whole solid-food thing and the joys of smearing food all over everything in a five-foot radius; they're more like slightly sweet bread which is then dried out in the oven (dwarven trail-bread or lembas, depending on how much you dry it out).

She bought some of these rusks in the UK a few years ago (there are a number of shops around which import foods from various overseas places for the homesick ex-pat...). Unfortunately they were rather stale and disappointing. So, as a placeholder birthday present (the real thing is still bouncing around the US trying to get to the person who's going to send it to me), I decided to have a go at making some rusks -- she seemed pretty happy with them and they did at least taste like I remember the "real thing" tasting...

Old-fashioned Buttermilk Rusks

1.5kg self-raising flour
10ml (2 tsp) salt
250ml sugar
375g butter
500ml buttermilk [buttermilk in Tescos is in 284ml (1/2 pint) tubs. Two of those, without rinsing out or shaking out the very last bit, come out about right - BG]
3 eggs

Mix flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl [and they do mean large - BG]. Rub in the butter - or, if you're in a hurry, you can melt the butter first [melting works fine and is way less hassle - BG]. Beat buttermilk with eggs and add to dry mixture.

Knead well; the more you knead, the higher they'll rise. If the dough seems a little dry, rinse the buttermilk carton out with a little water and add to the mixture to make a medium-soft but not a slippery dough. Continue kneading until the dough forms a ball and leaves the sides of the bowl clean.

Roll into balls about twice the size of golf balls [see note below - BG] and pack closely into two base-lined, oiled and floured 26 x 9 x 7cm loaf tins.

Bake at 200C for 30 min, then reduce heat to 180C and bake for a further 30 min. Turn out and break apart and then, with the help of a knife, break into rusks. Arrange on biscuit trays and dry out at 120C or in a warming drawer. Makes 84 - 96.

[Bibliogirl's notes: No way on this earth does this make 84 - 96 if you are following their 'twice the size of golf balls' sizing. About the size of golf balls or a smidgen bigger is more sensible; if you do that, this recipe more or less fills three standard-sized loaf tins and makes somewhere in the general region of 60 or so. This then gives you the added advantage of not having to bugger about with the lining/oiling/flour thing; instead, you can use some of those nice Lakeland loaf tin liners, which work a treat.

I dried them out in a 100C or so oven for perhaps 90 minutes and that seemed to come out more or less right, but some experimentation may be called for.

The original recipe also says you can eat them warm from the oven, and calls them, in that format, 'mosbolletjies'. Mouse balls? ;)

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