Aaaahhh rusks. If you are familiar with this little piece of heaven, then the sentiment is perfectly wrapped up in your mind and heart already.
If you’re not familiar with what a rusk is, then let me try and explain.
Think biscotti meets crouton meets cookie. The perfect accompaniment to any warm beverage and the most noticeable absence in any South African expat’s kitchen.
After moving to the US, I found I had 2 options. I could pay a ridiculous amount of money to order a box of Ouma’s off Amazon, or I could attempt to reach the highest culinary expectation known to any South African and bake them myself.
Turns out, it’s actually not too tricky, especially when you consider that any recipe that combines sugar and butter in such quantities can never go wrong from a satisfaction point of view!
But seriously, being a fairly novice baker, these ended up a success after only about 2 “that’s not what they’re supposed to look like” efforts. As bonus points, I have to say that these homemade rusks are much better than the store-bought!
Add a few years, subtract all animal products, and I faced a new challenge. Is it possible to make vegan rusks?
Fortunately, by the time I attempted these I had become fairly knowledgeable in plant-based cooking so I was excited to give it a go.
Ready for the very good news?
They are insanely good! No, not good FOR you (again, sugar…butter…), but freaking delicious, and are now a regular part of our US home.
So, here it is:
The Best Vegan Rusk Recipe
This recipe will yield about 70 rusks, depending on how big/small you like them. They last a long time – I’ve never bothered to really test it though. They’re too yummy to do that.
- 2 cups of unsweetened, unflavored plant milk (I use soy)
- 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
- 500g of vegan butter
- 5 – 8 cups of bran flakes cereal (depending on how much you like in your rusks – I am more on the 8 cups end) (double check that the brand you’re buying is in fact vegan)
- 2 cups of granulated sugar
- 1 cup of blended silken tofu (firm will work too if blended well)
- 1kg of self-raising flour
Preheat your oven to 350F (180C) and lightly grease 2 baking pans.
First, make your vegan buttermilk. In a small bowl, mix the plant milk and apple cider vinegar together, and set aside to curdle.
Next, melt your plant butter.
While the butter is melting, combine your bran flakes and sugar in a very large bowl (this is a big mixture). Once your tofu is well blended, add that to the bran and sugar mixture. Careful not to over-crumble your bran flakes.
Now add your butter and vegan buttermilk mixture to the bran and sugar. Mix gently.
Finally, begin to add your self-raising flour. As I said, this is a large mixture, so you may have to use your hands to mix and/or do it in batches.
Once everything is combined, begin to press your mixture into the 2 greased baking pans. You’ll want your mixture pressed down evenly at about 1 inch (2.5cm) thickness. I use about 1.5 baking pans.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the edges are looking golden. If both of your pans don’t fit on the same level in your oven, I recommend rotating them halfway through.
Once your rusks are browned at the very edge, remove them from the oven and turn your oven down to 212F (100C).
Carefully slice your rusks while still in the pans to whatever size you like. Place them back in the cooler oven to dry. If they are breaking apart as you slice, don’t worry. Stop slicing and let them dry in the oven for an hour and then try again. It is very important however to slice the rusks before they dry too much.
Let them dry for a few hours (say 3 or 4) and then, to speed up the drying process, you will need to separate your rusks. I use shallow baking sheets for this. As long as there is even a tiny amount of space between each of your rusks, they will dry. So, use whatever will give you the needed area space.
Put them back in the oven to dry for another 3-4 hours. Check them every hour or so to see how they’re doing. Another tip is to take them out after a couple of hours and turn them all over. This again will speed up the drying process.
Once they feel hard and crunchy to the touch on each side (you shouldn’t be able to poke your nail in), they are good to go. Let them cool in the trays and get dunking!
I hope you enjoy these as much as I, and my family do. I can’t imagine my mornings without them.
Visit Tara at Wholisticjoywellness.com
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