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.
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.