– Ilse van der Merwe
(FRESH, INNOVATIVE ,TASTY)
Ilse’s mom, master baker Erna Uys, baked rusks for a home industry in Stellenbosch in the ’80s. She would drop them off early in the morning and there would already be a queue of people waiting for these baked treats. The rusks are similar to “mosbolletjies” with the distinctive aniseed taste, but are made without must or grape juice. It can also be enjoyed as soft brioche as Ilse has prepared it in this recipe.
MAKES 3 LARGE LOAVES (12 BALLS EACH) Preparation time: 1 hour Kneading time: 10 min Rising time: 1-4 hours Baking time: 1 hour
3 packets (10 g each) instant yeast 500 ml (2 c) lukewarm water 750 ml (3 c) sugar 2,5 kg (10 c) cake flour 15 ml (1 T) salt 2 packets (35 g each) whole aniseed ½ can (193 g) condensed milk 250 g butter, melted 2 eggs, whisked 750 ml (3 c) lukewarm water extra melted butter for greasing
125 ml (½ c) sugar 125 ml (½ c) boiling water butter to serve
1 Brioche Mix the yeast, the 500 ml lukewarm water and 10 ml (2 t) of the sugar. Set aside for 10-15 minutes until frothy.
2 In a large mixing bowl, combine the rest of the sugar, the flour, salt and aniseed.
3 Add the condensed milk, butter, eggs and 750 ml lukewarm water and stir lightly. Add the yeast mixture and stir until the dough becomes difficult to stir with a spoon.
4 Grease your hands with a little melted butter and knead the dough for at least 10 minutes until a smooth ball forms.
5 Grease the top of the dough with butter and cover with a piece of plastic (a clean garbage bag works well) and a blanket. Allow to rise in a warm area until it doubles in volume, 1 to 4 hours, depending on the weather.
6 Preheat the oven to 170 °C and grease 3 baking tins, each 35 x 15 x 13 cm, with nonstick spray or butter.
7 Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Divide each part into 12 balls. Grease your hands with a little melted butter and shape each ball into a “rusk shape” by slightly flattening the top and bottom with your thumb and forefinger. Arrange the balls in neat rows in the prepared baking tins. They should fit snugly to allow them to rise upwards.
8 Bake for 1 hour. Remove the baking tins from the oven and turn on their sides to remove the bread. Turn the bread upright immediately and place on thickly folded clean towels (make sure they do not smell of fabric softener).
9 Syrup Stir the sugar into boiling water until the sugar has dissolved and brush the syrup over the hot bread.
10 Leave to cool slightly. Cut and serve with butter.
ANISEED RUSKS To make rusks, slice each ball of bread vertically into 4. Place in a 70 °C oven to dry for about 5 hours. The rusks should be dry but still appear white.