Banana Whole-Wheat Rusks (South African)

It’s amazing how much the weather affects my mood.  When I woke up this morning it was gray and rainy out.  I did my usual Friday morning thing (straightened up, made a giant breakfast, did the dishes, and sat down to read) and even though that routine usually fills me with a huge sense of peace and relaxation, I felt weirdly…melancholy.  An hour or two went by, and as the rain stopped and the sun came out I was back to my regular baking, errand running, procrastinating, happy self.  And it was 100% due to the sun.  It was gorgeous enough to open the windows while I baked–and that is probably my favorite thing ever.

It also might have had to do with the green-themed care package that arrived in the mail today stuffed with goodies from my parents.  Thin Mints really just have a happy way about them, and my mom told me she has a new problem called she can’t stop buying me cute and functional things for my kitchen.

Mom and Dad found this scarf for me in Chinatown last time they were in NYC for business

Now that is a problem that I can live with.

I’ve mentioned before that the hubs is South African, and he has begged me for rusks for a few weeks now.  Rusks are a hard, twice-baked bread that is like biscotti in that it is dipped in tea or coffee to soften before eating.  Usually rusks are a little less refined than biscotti, too–salty buttermilk or rough bran often flavor these amazing snacks.

I have become a huge fan of rusks in the last few years, and since Fritz has also been asking for banana bread (he gets excited when he spies a few spots on a banana), I decided to go out on a limb and combine the two!

Start off with banana bread:

Whole-Wheat Banana Bread (you could use any banana bread recipe you like, but I’d aim for a hearty, less sweet version like this one I adapted–you want to complement your tea, not overwhelm it)

  • 2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 2 T ground flaxseed
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 C brown sugar (I used Indian maple sugar)
  • 1/2 C milk (I think these would be even better if you substituted buttermilk here)
  • 2 t vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350.  Start by combining the dry ingredients, then adding the wet ingredients and mixing until a smooth batter forms.  Like I’ve said before, I like to slice the bananas into the mixer and then let the beater mash them a bit–then there are some chunks of banana left for discovery.

Pour into a greased loaf pan–I topped it with a crushed granola bar for some extra texture, but that’s optional.  Bake on the middle rack until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 50 minutes.  The top and edges will be a nice, dark brown because of the whole-wheat flour.  Let it cool for at least 15 minutes before you turn it out and slice it.

If you are just making banana bread, stop here.  Otherwise–turn the oven down to warm/200 degrees and get ready for rusks!

Banana Whole-Wheat Rusks

Slice the bread into thick slices, and divide each slice vertically into four pieces for thin, rectangular shapes.  Place the rusks on a dry baking sheet and dry out in the oven, rotating every hour or so to prevent them from burning.

It helps to keep the oven door propped open a bit to let the moisture escape.  The drying should take 3-6 hours for one loaf, depending on how hot your oven is and how thinly sliced the rusks are.  Once they are dry, cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.  Serve with tea or coffee.

Fritz nearly fainted with happiness when he discovered what was cookin’ in the oven all day.

Even Henry couldn’t wait for these rusks to finally be finished:

You’ll notice that Henry is seated on a scratching pad that he has decided is better suited as a throne–he sits on it all day long.  Gotta love that catnip.

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10 Comments

Filed under Breads, Snacks

10 responses to “Banana Whole-Wheat Rusks (South African)

  1. Your blog is really cool and I love the way you introduce yourself. life is there to enjoy it and good food is a part of it 🙂

  2. I’ve never heard of rusks…but they look delicious 😉

  3. Lindsay

    I’m supposed to bring something South African to a braai we’re having at my school and I found this recipe. I’m definitely not a cook but this was so easy and fun and smells really good in the oven! 🙂 Thanks for the great idea and instruction. I feel like an accomplished creator of yummy food.

  4. Lauren, how long does these last when one store them in a air-tight container?

    • If you make sure they really are dry, they last quite some time…I’ve probably seen them linger for a month at my in-law’s house–but they do get a bit stale. When I make just one batch, they don’t last long–but thats due to their quick consumption 🙂

  5. I just discovered your blog yesterday, and I’ve been having so much fun browsing all your entries and recipes! Finally I found a fellow foodie who thinks like me! 🙂 I made this banana bread today and it was one of the best, simplest recipes I’ve ever tried. I can’t wait to try your hot chocolate cookies tomorrow!

    Keep up the good work! 🙂

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