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Prep Time:

60 minutes

Cook Time:

45 mins




About the Recipe

Soft, creamy chocolate encased in crispy Phyllo Pastry


The word “rusk” is the anglicized term for “beskuit” which in turn takes it origins from the French term “biscuit de guerre” but why do most South Africans (SAFFAS) especially, and many others from across the globe, go gaga for rusks?

Well, aside from the taste speaking for itself, with regards to SAFFAS, it something that most of us grew up with and together with rugby and sunny skies, it is historically as much a “cultural thing” as what “braaivleis” is (or “Braai” as it is more commonly referred to - and, No - it is not a “BBQ”! – in Saffa-speak, the latter refers to a row of gents waiting in line to have their hair cut! It’s a BRAAI!)

But where do rusks originate from?

During South Africa’s pioneering days of the late 1830’s – a period historically referred to as "The Great Trek" that occurred in short succession to the American Pioneering history of the late 1700’s to early 1800’s - following the birth of the Afrikaner nation that resulted from the confluence of the Dutch -, French -, British - and German Settlers’ presence in the Cape of Good Hope (Cape Town), the Afrikaners (colloquially referred to as the “Boers” meaning “farmers”), had become sufficiently disenchanted with the British rule of the Cape Colony so as to seek a new life in the vast hinterland of the then as-yet un-tamed Southern African interior.

During those long and arduous journeys with their ox-wagons, it was customary to form wood-burning ovens in hollowed out ant-heaps in which they would bake bread and for preservation purposes / preventing mold between encampment days, they would dry the bread out to later enjoy with a cup of “Boere-troos” (Strong ground coffee fondly referred to as “farmers’ consolation”)

In later years, 1939 to be exact, during the Great Depression, an Afrikaner “Ouma” named Elizabeth Ann Greyvenstein ( “Ouma” is the Afrikaans word for “granny” – it literally means “old mother”) decided to bake rusks with a trusted family recipe, as a way to render help to her community and so on a North-Eastern Cape farm near a town called Molteno, one of South Africa’s favorite brands was born.

To this day that same recipe is followed and over time “Ouma” rusks have become as interwoven into South African cuisine as what Mrs. Ball’s Peach Chutney is!


1Kg All-purpose cake flour

5 grams fine salt

50 grams Baking Powder

300 grams Sugar (white or light brown)

500ml Buttermilk

(Or substitute with 500ml full cream milk and 40ml fresh lemon juice or white (Spirit) vinegar)

1 Large Egg

30ml Vanilla Extract

250gr unsalted butter


1. Set oven on “bake” at 65° C (150° F)

2. If you’re not using Buttermilk, mix the milk and lemon juice or vinegar and set aside

3. Grease and line 2 large loaf-tins/ rectangular cake tins or standard roasting pans with baking spray and baking paper

4. Sift all the dry ingredients EXCEPT THE SUGAR together in a large bowl

5. Cut the butter into small blocks and rub into the dry mixture until it resembles bread crumbs

6. Whisk the egg, buttermilk and vanilla extract together and then stir in the sugar.

7. Form a well in the centre of the dry ingredient, pour in the wet mixture and “cut” it into dry mixture with a palette knife to form a dough.

8. Now hand-knead the dough to the “elastic stage” – Simply sprinkle a bit more flour on your hands and rub together if the dough should stick to them.

9. To form the rusks:

a. Divide the dough into two parts, place in the loaf tins or

b. Roll into sausage-shapes about the length of your thumb and 3cm diameter and place alongside in your cake tins or roasting pans or

c. Roll into golf-ball sized balls and place in equal rows in your cake tins or roasting pans (I prefer this method)

10. Prove for about 45 minutes in the pre-heated oven, remove and set the oven to 180° C (350° F).

11. When at temperature, bake the rusks for about 45 minutes or until a golden-brown crust has formed – test with a skewer and if ready, remove from the oven and set aside to cool for a short while -simultaneously, turn the oven down again to 65° C (150° F)

12. When cooled, turn the rusks out and either slice the loaves (an electric knife works best) into 2cm slices then again into 2cm “fingers” or gently break the “sausages” or balls apart.

13. Place on an oven-rack with enough space in between for free air movement and dry in the cool oven for at least 4 hours or until completely dried through.

14. Once completely cooled, store in air-tight containers

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