The first time I ever tried a “rusk” I was about 11 years old. A family of South Africans, the McIntosh’s, moved into the same area as my family in Queensland and I remember dipping this extremely dry, but fabulous snack into a cold glass of milk after school. They introduced me to all types of South African food which I still find some of my favourite “home cooked” meals today. Rusks are typically dunked in coffee or tea before being eaten - I am a fan of the cold milk dunk...
A “Rusk” is the English term for beskuit which is a traditional Afrikaner breakfast meal or snack. Rusks have been baked in South Africa since the late 1690s as a way of preserving bread, especially when travelling long distances without refrigeration. They were used during The Great Trek and the Boer War and are still popular as ever today.
My husband, Mike (who is also a South African immigrant to Australia) had a wonderful friend Lannice Snyman, who was a well known South African food guru who sadly passed away in 2010.
We adapted Lannice’s Buttermilk recipe from her “Tortoises and Tumbleweeds” book into our own style with about ½ the sugar but then putting in quite a lot of fruit and nuts. We also received inspiration from Mike’s sister-in-law Ans Boyd who is an incredible rusk maker. Her rusks always look perfect and uniform in size, which we are yet to master, but they taste wonderful anyway. Lannice’s daughter, Tamsin, has followed in her footsteps and has moved forward with the same commitment and passion that Lannice had for South African cuisine.