South African Recipes

South African Buttermilk Rusks Recipe: History, Tips & More

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Howzit, everyone! Today, we’re taking a culinary journey to the heart of South Africa. Buckle up as we delve into a treasured South African treat – the beloved Buttermilk Rusks.

south african buttermilk rusks

Buttermilk Rusks

Matthew Rolfe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine South African
Servings 4 people


  • 1 Mixing Bowl
  • 1 Bread loaf tin or a rusk tin
  • 1 Baking parchment
  • 1 Cooling Rack


  • 500 g Self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Caster sugar
  • 125 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 Egg
  • 300 ml Buttermilk
  • 200 g Mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, and flaxseed) This part is optional


  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line your tin with baking parchment.
  • In your mixing bowl, mix together the self-raising flour, baking powder, salt, and caster sugar.
  • Now, rub the butter into the flour mixture using your fingertips. You're looking for a crumbly texture, a bit like breadcrumbs.
  • Next, crack your egg into a separate bowl, add the buttermilk and give it a good whisk. We're adding air here, folks!
  • Gradually add your wet ingredients to your dry ones, mixing as you go. Then, fold in the mixed seeds if you went for this option.
  • Once your dough comes together (it'll be quite sticky, don't panic!), spoon it into your lined tin. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth the top.
  • Pop your tin into the preheated oven and bake for about 60 minutes. You're looking for a lovely golden brown crust and a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean.
  • Once baked, let your loaf cool in the tin for about 15 minutes, then remove it and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
  • When your loaf is completely cool, cut it into rusks (thick slices first, then each slice into fingers). Arrange these on a baking tray and dry them out in a very low oven (about 70 degrees Celsius) for 8 hours or overnight.
Keyword buttermilk rusks

buttermilk rusks

Buttermilk Rusks History

Buttermilk Rusks, or “Beskuit” as known in Afrikaans, hold a dear spot in South Africa’s culinary storybook. They date back to the country’s early pioneer days when the Voortrekkers needed durable food for their long treks across the rugged South African landscape. As a result, rusks – double-baked bread, perfect for travel – became a staple. “Beskuit” translates to “biscuit,” although the product we’re talking about is far from a biscuit in British terms. Instead, these are hard, dry biscuits ideal for dunking in your favourite hot drink. This tradition continues today, with a comforting rusk dunked in morning tea or coffee considered a quintessential South African experience.

Tips & Tricks

Making rusks at home is an adventure I’ve embarked on many times. A pro tip – ensure your butter is room temperature. It’ll make it so much easier to rub into your dry ingredients. And speaking of dry ingredients, make sure you whisk them together before adding in your wet mixture. It helps distribute the baking powder evenly for a consistent rise. Another trick is letting your baked loaf cool completely before cutting into rusks. This way, they’ll hold their shape better when you dry them out in the oven.

Best Occasions to Serve Buttermilk Rusks

Buttermilk Rusks are a treat for any occasion, really. The beauty of these delights is their versatility. They’re perfect for a casual brekkie, a quick tea break, or even as a midnight snack. Come festive season, they make a warm, homey addition to the Christmas spread. Their long shelf-life also makes them excellent as thoughtful homemade gifts.

Recipes & Sides That Go Well With Buttermilk Rusks

Rooibos Tea: The national drink of South Africa makes a lovely pairing with rusks. This is the most South African way to enjoy two South African classics at tea time.
Fruit Preserve: Spread on rusks for a sweet and tangy delight.
Hot Coffee: A classic choice for dunking your rusks into.

Ingredient Alternatives for Buttermilk Rusks

Whole Wheat Flour: For a healthier twist.
Plant-Based Milk and Vinegar: A dairy-free alternative to buttermilk.
Vegan Butter: For those preferring a plant-based version.

Nutritional Facts

Per serving for four people:

Calories: Approximately 500
Carbs: Roughly 75g
Sugars: Around 15g
Fats: About 20g
Protein: Close to 15g
Fibre: Approximately 5g
These rusks are a substantial source of energy but remember, moderation is key, chinas. Enjoy a rusk or two with your morning cuppa, but remember, they’re pretty high in carbs and fats.

Troubleshooting (Common Problems)

Rusks not rising: Check the freshness of your baking powder.
Rusks too dry: Adjust your drying time in the oven.
Dough too sticky: Add a bit more flour.

Buttermilk Rusks Alternatives and Similar Recipes

Muesli Rusks: A healthier version packed with oats and dried fruits.
Seed Rusks: Loaded with various seeds for a crunchy twist.
Italian Biscotti: A European take on double-baked biscuits.
Soft Inkomazi Scones: If the scones are served as a savoury component of a meal, buttermilk rusks could be served as a sweet contrast on the side.
Koeksister: If you’re looking for a less sweet, slightly more bread-like alternative to a dessert, buttermilk rusks could be a great option. They still deliver on the sweet aspect but are not as intensely sweet as koeksisters.
Vetkoek Recipe: If you want a more dessert-like, less savoury alternative to Vetkoek, buttermilk rusks could be a good option. They can be enjoyed on their own, or dipped in a hot beverage.
Pampoenkoekies: Pumpkin fritters are a great (and sweet) way to spice up a meal. While you might not want to eat rusks at dinner, pampoenkoekies are fair game!

Now, go ahead and give this traditional South African recipe a try. It’s time to start dunking, my friends. Enjoy!

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