South African Buttermilk Muesli Rusk

Some things you just never forget. Like your first kiss. Or the time I tasted a South African 'karringmelk beskuit' or buttermilk rusk for the first time. 

South African buttermilk muesli rusk, karringmelk beskuit, beskuit, coffee, with nuts, raisins, self-rising flour

I was in the middle of a game reserve in South Africa- the Mosetlha Bush Camp and Eco Lodge in Madikwe to be exact. It was 5am and still dark. With no electricity at the eco camp, I stumbled out of my mosquito net draped bed and dressed in darkness to the clear morning call of the crested francolin and the faint smell of wood smoke. Bleary eyed and in zombie mode, getting ready to clamber up into the 4x4 for my first game drive, our ranger stopped me. 

"Howzit! Get yourself some coffee and rusks before we head out", she suggested cheerfully. 

"Dunk the rusks into your coffee", she gestured. "That's the South African way to eat them". 

Oh boy, do the South Africans have it right or what? Those scrumptious rusks enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee, woke me up in an instant.

South African buttermilk muesli rusk, karringmelk beskuit, beskuit, with nuts, raisins, self-rising flour

I slipped a few into my pocket to enjoy while on safari. After all it would be a 4 hour expedition before we returned to the camp for breakfast.

And as the sun rose over the beautiful bushveld...

Sunrise, Mosetlha Bush Camp, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa


...we rumbled along in our 4x4, excitedly tracking and spotting...
4x4, safari, Mosetlha Bush Camp, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Heads ...
Lion, safari, Mosetlha Bush Camp, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

And tails...
Giraffe, safari, Mosetlha Bush Camp, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Tops...
Impala, safari, Mosetlha Bush Camp, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

and bottoms...
Zebra, safari, Mosetlha Bush Camp, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Of all shapes...
Rhino, safari, Mosetlha Bush Camp, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

And sizes...
4x4, safari, flat, Mosetlha Bush Camp, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
So, how many men does it take to change a flat tire in the bush? Just one. Three to watch.
And four women to tell him he's doing it wrong...while enjoying coffee and rusks.

And for every one of the 'Big Five' we spotted, I'd celebrate by surreptitiously pulling out a rusk from my pocket and nibbling at it out of my husband's line of sight...so I wouldn't have to share.

The remaining days in the bush, I think I looked forward to morning rusks with as much anticipation as I did to seeing the animals.

What are South African Rusks?

'Beskuit', as it's known in Afrikaans, or rusks in English, are a traditional Afrikaner breakfast item or snack. According to famous South African cook book author, Errieda du Toit, "It's been a practice on farms in the Cape to break the fast at day break with mosbeskuit and black coffee, dipping it into the coffee."

These rusks are a twice baked, really hard, dry, sweet, crumbly biscuit or cookie that starts off baked like a cake. They are then baked the second time around under low heat for a long time to dehydrate them into hard beskuits. This was a way to preserve bread in the old days, especially while travelling over long distances when refrigeration was not possible.

Rusks are typically made from a cake like batter of flour, sugar, eggs, butter and a leavener which could be baking powder or yeast. Buttermilk is added for it's acidity and to increase the fat and liquid content. The acidity, along with the leaveners, helps the dough rise.

South African buttermilk muesli rusk, karringmelk beskuit, beskuit, coffee, with nuts, raisins, self-rising flour

Back in the U.S., I could not find South African rusks in the marketplace. So, I decided I would have to learn to make them myself if I wanted to eat them. So, I researched various South African cooking blogs and recipe books from Woolworth's to the champion of South African Home cooking, South African cook book author, Errieda du Toit. I was on a quest to learn how to make an original South African rusk and I would only trust a true South African's recipe.


South African buttermilk muesli rusk, karringmelk beskuit, beskuit, with nuts, raisins, self-rising flour

I finally settled on South African food blogger, Sam Linsell's recipe* for a Buttermilk Muesli Rusk, while slightly altering the selection of fruits and nuts in the recipe to my own liking. I also added vanilla essence, although most of the South African recipes that I came across didn't use any essence. I'm so pleased with the result. 

South African buttermilk muesli rusk, karringmelk beskuit, beskuit, coffee, with nuts, raisins, self-rising flour

Enjoying these buttermilk muesli rusks over a hot cup of tea or coffee, takes me straight back to the Mosetlha Bush Camp. Lovely memories that I will always cherish!

See how you can make your own South African Muesli Buttermilk Rusks.


Recipe for South African Buttermilk Muesli Rusks 


Yield: Approximately 42 pieces

Ingredients:


☐ 500gms self-raising flour
☐ 1 ½ cups oats
☐ 1 ¼ cup light brown sugar 
☐ 1/2 cup dark raisins
☐ 1/3 cup golden raisins
☐ 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
☐ 1/3 cup sweetened dry shredded coconut
☐ 1/4 cup flaxseeds
☐ 250ml buttermilk
☐ 125gms butter melted
☐ 2 large eggs
☐ 1/3 cup oil
☐ 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Cooking notes:
- I used roasted and salted sunflower and flax seeds and salted butter. If using unsalted nuts and unsalted butter, you will need to add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the recipe.
- After the first bake, my cookies tasted a bit salty. But, after the second bake, once the rusks had dried out completely, they were perfect.

Ingredients for South African buttermilk muesli rusk batter, karringmelk beskuit, beskuit, with nuts, raisins, self-rising flour, butter, oil, flax, sunflower seeds, eggs
Ingredients: (Clockwise) Buttermilk, flour, oats, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, oil, golden raisins, butter, coconut, brown sugar. (Center) Eggs, raisins.



Method:


STEP 1: Combine the dry ingredients

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, oats, all the raisins, seeds and coconut. Mix well.
How to make, South African buttermilk muesli rusk batter, karringmelk beskuit, beskuit, with nuts, raisins, self-rising flour


STEP 2: Combine the wet ingredients

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla essence.
How to make, South African buttermilk muesli rusk batter, karringmelk beskuit, beskuit, with nuts, raisins, self-rising flour


STEP 3: Combine wet and dry ingredients

Slowly add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients. Mix in with a wooden spoon. When it gets too difficult to mix, use your hand to gently combine everything together until it is well mixed. The batter consistency should be sticky and doughy.  If the batter seems dry, add a bit more buttermilk to make the batch of batter better. (Just like Betty did! Get it?)

How to make, South African buttermilk muesli rusk batter, karringmelk beskuit, beskuit, with nuts, raisins, self-rising flour

STEP 4: First Bake

Line a baking pan with parchment paper and spread the batter evenly in the pan.

For a round 8 inch baking pan, bake at 350°F for 50 minutes.
For a 23cm-33cm baking pan, bake at 350°F for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven when the top is slightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Place on a wire rack and allow to cool.

South African buttermilk muesli rusk, karringmelk beskuit, beskuit, with nuts, raisins, self-rising flour




STEP 5: Second Bake

When cool, place on a cutting board and cut the rusk into pieces.

Lay the pieces out on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake at 200° F for 6 hours or until the rusks have completely dehydrated.

South African buttermilk muesli rusk, karringmelk beskuit, beskuit, with nuts, raisins, self-rising flour

Store the rusks in an air tight container. And enjoy them along with a hot cup of tea or coffee.

South African buttermilk muesli rusk, karringmelk beskuit, beskuit, coffee, with nuts, raisins, self-rising flour


*Recipe inspired by Sam Linsell from Drizzle and Dip

To read more about the fascinating South African rusk that originated in the Cape Colony and which continues to be a morning ritual in South African kitchens, visit 'A South African Biscuit Tradition- Rusky Business'.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post!
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If you liked this recipe, you may also like my "Cinnamon Raisin Roll Rusk"


Or check out my "My Cookbook Index" for a complete list of something that might tickle your fancy.


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