Tannie Maria’s Advice and Recipe Column: Muesli Buttermilk Rusks

 Landrover waiting for cows to cross a road in the Karoo. Image: Andrea Nixon / Supplied

By Sally Andrew | Maverick Life

“That night I struggled to sleep. I was worried about those two women. I knew too well what could happen to them, and I tried not to remember what had happened to me. But sometimes these flashes just come to me as if it all happened only yesterday instead of years ago. I calmed myself down by reciting my mother’s muesli buttermilk rusk recipe. Butter, flour, sunflower seeds, dried apples …

“I had run out of rusks at home and at the office. And rusks should dry out overnight. So I got up and made a big batch and put them into two baking trays in the oven. I let the warm sweet smell fill my lungs, and somehow it helped fight away the memories, and the worry. Maybe duck lady’s husband was not as bad as my husband. And even my husband didn’t kill me …

“When the dough was baked and had cooled a little, I cut it into rusk-sized pieces and put them into the warming drawer. I ate two of the biggest pieces while they were still soft, with a cup of tea. They were like buttery cake. I went back to bed and kept my mind on the sweet bread that was becoming rusks, all safe and warm and dry, and I finally managed to fall asleep.”

Sally Andrew is the author of a series of Tannie Maria murder mysteries set in the Klein Karoo. In this monthly column, Daily Maverick collaborates with the (fictional) Karoo Gazette to share some of Tannie Maria’s stories, letters and recipes.

Sally Andrew’s mother’s rusk recipe. Image: Supplied

I had run out of rusks at home and at the office. And rusks should dry out overnight. So I got up and made a big batch and put them into two baking trays in the oven. I let the warm sweet smell fill my lungs, and somehow it helped fight away the memories, and the worry. Maybe duck lady’s husband was not as bad as my husband. And even my husband didn’t kill me …

When the dough was baked and had cooled a little, I cut it into rusk-sized pieces and put them into the warming drawer. I ate two of the biggest pieces while they were still soft, with a cup of tea. They were like buttery cake. I went back to bed and kept my mind on the sweet bread that was becoming rusks, all safe and warm and dry, and I finally managed to fall asleep.

***

Muesli Buttermilk Rusks

In this video, Sally Andrew’s friend, Lol Roebert, gives the origins of her spectacularly delicious rusk recipe, as well as showing how to make them.

  • 1 kg cake flour
  • 2 T baking powder (20g)
  • 4 t salt
  • 1½ cups toasted muesli (200g)
  • 1 not-quite-full cup of sultanas or raisins (100g)
  • 1 cup chopped dried apples (75g)
  • 1¼ cups sunflower seeds (170g)
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut (40g)
  • ¼ cup linseeds (35g)
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds (35g)
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds (30g)
  • 2 cups brown sugar (400g)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 500 g butter, melted
Out of the oven. Image: Laurian Roebert
Weighing ingredients. Image: Laurian Roebert
The rusk dough. Image: Laurian Roebert

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and grease four ordinary loaf tins or one 30×40 cm tin.

Mix together all the dry ingredients.

Beat the eggs and mix in the buttermilk and melted butter. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well.

Spoon the mixture (about 3cm thick) into the tin(s) and bake for about 45 minutes.

Leave to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire rack, then allow to cool completely.

Cut into rusks, about 2cm thick if they are in loaf tins or 3×4 cm if they are in the larger tin, depending on how big you like them.

Dry overnight in a warming drawer, or in a 80–100ºC oven for 4–6 hours until hard and dry. Store in an airtight container.

Dip the rusks into your coffee, like biscuits, until soft and delicious.

The rusks must cool. Image: Laurian Roebert
Sliced. Image: Laurian Roebert
Ready for drying. Image: Laurian Roebert

Tips

Use a pair of scissors to cut the dried apple – it is much easier.

You can also add dried cranberries or your favourite nuts, seeds or dried fruit, as long as the overall amount of dry ingredients stays the same. DM/ ML

Gallery

This letter and Tannie Maria’s recipe are an excerpt from Recipes for Love and Murder. You can buy Sally Andrew’s books here.

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