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Rusky substitute?

October 6, 2009


Growing up a rusk for me was something that you gave to little children who were teething, I’d never even thought of the possibility of them being for anything else. I have memories of my younger brother chewing on them until they became what could only be describe as goop and loving every second of it.
So when the Husband offered me one to go with my cup of tea many moons ago (when we were simply friends) I couldn’t help but look at him with disgust. Why would I, a fully grown adult with all of my teeth, want a rusk? I politely refused and sipped my cup of tea wondering to myself who I had chosen to be friends with. What he came out from the kitchen with, was nothing like I’d expected. This Ouma variety was uniquely South African and not something I, as an Australian, had come across before. I quickly explained the error of my ways and expressed a desire to taste these interesting things with my cup of tea. And, I must admit I was not enamoured with them, I politely ate my rusk but did not ask for another for years to come.

My MIL has a tried and true recipe for the creation of these rusks, and would occasionally keep the Husband supplied. It was not until this year that I had a nibble on these homemade varieties and discovered a liking for them. I have yet to make them for myself though, as it takes a good 8 hours of drying for them to be perfect and I don’t often have the time to do this, and when you have a MIL who creates large batches to supply her own FIL and will throw a few our way – I felt less inclined to create them.

I came across a recipe for Ciambellone. I wondered to myself if it could be a substitute for the rusk in our household, for when our supply runs out. So I gave it a whirl – it was adapted however, as the Husband was not a fan of the idea of dunking something that was not dried out so I did some slicing and some drying – but nowhere near the amount of time needed for a rusk. Verdict: the Husband has had 3 cups of tea for lunch simply so he can dunk so I think he’s pretty happy with them. <br

Ciambellone
1 stick butter (8 tbsp.), unsalted
4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1/8tsp. Orange essence
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup whole milk, lukewarm
2 extra large eggs (you can use large but you may need some extra water)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup warm water

Preheat the oven to 190C
Melt the butter in a small saucepan and let cool slightly (for about 5 minutes).
Heat the milk and set aside.
Combine the flour, sugar, salt in a bowl and whisk together, set aside.
Add the melted butter and the milk and mix until you have a slightly wet mixture. It will still look dry.
Separate one of the eggs (set aside the yolk). Put the other egg and the egg white from the separated egg into the flour mixture. Remove a bit of the set aside yolk and place it in a small bowl (you will use this as an egg wash). Put the remaining egg yolk in the mixture. Add the orange juice and essence.
Gather the mixture together. Start adding water, I used about 1/4c of warm water. What you’re looking for is a dough that comes together and has the consistency of a lumpy dough. It will not be smooth.
Place dough in a ring mould – I used a bundt because it was the easiest thing to get hold of at the time.
Brush the ring with the leftover egg yolk and place in the oven. Bake for about 35 minutes and then remove from the ring and slice into pieces. Arrange the pieces on a baking tray. Reduce the oven to about 100C and cook for about 3 hours or until dry.

Recipe adapted from Cream Puffs in Venice.

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