“I’m not a snob. Ask anybody. Well, anybody who matters.” – Simon Le Bon.
Many have told me that the first impression I give is that of a snob . It doesn’t bother me much because I like to think , the impression does a 360 once you get to know me ! I know – modesty isn’t one of many virtues ! He He…
There are times when I myself feel I am quite pretentious- even when it comes to food and baking. I used to turn up my nose when offered a rusk at teatime but would grab at the occasional chance to grab a biscotti at a cafe. Well , as I grew older , and a tad bit wiser , my palate changed as well and nowadays , I do enjoy a rusk dipped in my coffee ! And I am not so snobbish to accept that I do dip things in my cuppa !
So, Rusk is the more humble Indian cousin of the Italian biscotti . I say humble , because although as much satisfaction as a dipped rusk is , biscotti seems to have a whole lot more of variations and add ins and more a sweet bite in themselves. I say cousin because both are twice baked to an absolutely dry texture and like i said both are enjoyed dipped ( we have our chai and filter kaapi, the Italians have their wine and latte !) . And I say Indian , just because I always thought it was Indian, but turns out- I am wrong there.. rusk is infact eaten all over the world in one form or another.
So the Indian rusks are of two types (and this is my own very official classification). One is the cake rusk, and the other is the regular or toast or bread rusk. You can make cake rusk from scratch or just by slicing up and rebaking leftover cake (or cake that didn’t bake up to your expectations ). Another way to use up leftover or wasted cake is to make cake truffles ! Toast rusk or bread rusk as the name suggests is made by twice baking bread. Which is what I have done here! Some call it milk toast as well and since this recipe has ample milk powder, i think that describes it best.
I was surprised by how few recipes they were of the bread variety of this rusk.. Mine is based on a recipe by Tarla Dalal. Its simple to make, although a bit time consuming . I would say this recipe is for those who like to have the satisfaction of baking from scratch . And of dunking that home baked goodness into some piping hot coffee!
- 250 grams or 2 cups all purpose flour or maida
- 240 ml or 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
- 50 grams or 1/4 cup castor or granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup milk powder
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Heat the water until lukewarm - if you place a finger inside, you should be able to keep it in for a couple of mins until it gets too hot to keep it. Take off heat.
- Add the yeast and one teaspoon of the sugar to the water. Let rest for 5-10 minutes or until frothy.
- In another bowl, whisk together flour, milk powder, sugar and salt well.
- Add the activated yeast mixture and oil .
- Mix (by hand or dough hooks) until a shaggy dough forms. You can add more flour (upto a quarter cup) if too wet or little more water if too dry.
- Knead this on a floured surface for a couple of minutes until smooth.
- Place in a greased bowl , cover and place in a warm are for about an hour or until doubled.
- Knock out the air from the risen dough.
- Grease a 8 inch square pan with oil / butter.
- Press the dough into it spreading it as evenly as possible.
- Cover and keep in a warm place for 30 minutes or doubled.
- Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F.
- Bake for 28-30 minutes until brown.
- Cool completely and slice . I sliced the bread into 4 in one direction and 10 in the other - so got 40 rusks.
- Whenever you are ready to bake your rusks, preheat again to 180 C/ 350 F.
- Place the sliced rusks close together on a parchment lined or greased baking tray.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 180 C / then turn the rusks over and bake again for 15-20 minutes until well browned and hard.
- Cool and store in an airtight container
- These can be stored in an airtight container for upto 2 weeks or longer
- These rusks are lightly sweet , so you can increase or reduce the sugar as per your taste.
Ah… I am pretty darn pleased with myself that i managed to recreate something in my own oven something that I have seen in shops all my life! Not too shabby a job too.. see, I told you modesty is not one of my strengths!