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South African Buttermilk Rusks

19th January 2024


Rusks, the beloved South African treat, are more than just biscuits. They’re a symphony of textures and flavors, perfect for dunking in coffee, tea, or enjoying plain. Made with a simple dough enriched with buttermilk and vanilla, then sliced and baked twice, rusks emerge light and crumbly, with a hint of sweetness that pairs beautifully with cheeses and preserves.

Ready to bake up a batch of these golden gems? Gather your ingredients and preheat your oven. This recipe is your gateway to a taste of South African sunshine, perfect for sharing with loved ones.

So, let’s get baking!

Ingredients for South African Buttermilk Rusks:
1kg cake flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 level tablespoons of Moirs Royal Baking Powder
500ml buttermilk (or use full fat milk with 3 tablespoons of Safari vinegar)
1 large egg
1.5 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon Moirs Vanilla Essence
250g cold butter, cut into small blocks


Preheat your oven to 65°C, while you grease two loaf tins.
If you’re not using store bought buttermilk, now’s the time to make it; add your vinegar to the full cream milk and allow to stand for about 5 minutes.
Sift your flour, salt and baking powder together and then rub your butter into the flour – it should be like breadcrumbs once it’s ready. TIP: You can add it to the food processor and use the pulse mode to get it ready.

Once the dry mixture is good to go, beat your egg and then add the buttermilk and vanilla essence to it. Stir, add your sugar and stir again. Next, add your dry ingredients to the milky mixture and mix it through with a knife.
Knead well until it becomes elastic. Tip: You can add flour to make it less sticky. Then roll into sausage shapes and pack into your tins. TIP: Use your thumb as a guide for the size or let them bake as loaves and slice once cooked.
Bake for 45 minutes, allowing the dough to rise and remove.
Adjust the temperature to 180°C – once ready, bake for another 45 minutes and turn the loaves out to cool. Decrease the temperature to 65°C again.

Once cool, break the rusks apart or slice them (if baked in loaves) and layer them on baking trays. Note: It’s important to do a single layer only. Then bake for 8 hours, turning them every 2 hours. Tip: Make sure each side gets a turn to face up.
Allow cool and enjoy!
Tip: Store in an airtight container.