Vegan Rusks

I can only apologise - for the wait. Months ago, I promised in my non-vegan buttermilk rusks recipe that I was going to veganise it very soon. Alas, it has not been 'very soon'. We ALWAYS have a tin of these delicious snacks in my house but I seem to have forgotten to share them with you because I’ve been distracted by constantly looking to post the freshest, most exciting idea I've got going. But they're finally here!

In case you haven't read the previous rusk post, and can't be bothered to go back to it (totally fine :P), rusks are basically a traditional South African biscuit or cookie. They're twice-baked, much like biscotti, and come in many different sizes and flavours. But what is common to all is the technique of drying them out post-bake; historically, this was a great way to preserve them when travelling long distances without refrigeration (they go way back to the late 1690s)!

So, to the rusks themselves. They're so good - I eat them every day. They’re not too sweet, with that distinctive tang of real buttermilk, and I find them immensely satisfying with a cup of tea or coffee. They keep for ages, without any of the nasties in your standard biscuit/cookie (e.g. high-frustose corn syrup). Texturally, I love the creamy crunch from the hazelnuts and then you encounter a raisin with a chewy chewiness and... mmm you can tell I'm getting distracted.

I cannot recommend these highly enough for an after-school snack, or a time when something super sugary is usually consumed. Despite being a healthier alternative* to, say, Oreos (which incidentally I found out have become vegan (!)), these still manage to satisfy any buttery-sweet cravings. They're so much better than eating a really sugary snack that gives you a buzz, hits you with a crash, then leaves you craving more.

Please do this one thing for me if you're gonna bake these. Check on them every now and again. I do not know your oven, but my oven is a temperamental (**expletive goes here**), so unless you fancy bitter raisins and scorched tops, take a peek every so often!

*If you're interested, I've calculated the nutritional info. Find it here

Vegan Buttermilk Rusks
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Vegan Buttermilk Rusks

Yield:
40 small or 20 large rusks
Hands-on time:
30 mins
Hands-off time:
1hr 10min baking then 3 hours+ drying out

Ingredients:

  dry ingredients
500g / 4 cups self-raising flour
115g / 2½ cups bran flakes (US readers - All-Bran* cereal)
45g / ⅓ cup hazelnuts
90g / ½ cup white caster sugar
½ tsp baking powder
3g / ½ tsp salt
70g / ½ cup pumpkin seeds
95g / ¾ cup raisins
   
  wet ingredients
2½ tbsp water + 1 tbsp (7g) ground flax seeds
100g/110ml / ½ cup coconut oil, melted
275ml/1cup +2tbsp unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp lemon juice

Process:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F.
  2. Line a deep-walled baking tray (mine is 33x20x4cm / 13x8x1.5" but it needn't be exactly the same) with baking parchment.
  3. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl. Finely crush the bran flakes using your hands. Crush the hazelnuts in a bag using a rolling pin or something heavy. Mix in the bran flakes, hazelnuts and the rest of the dry ingredients into the flour.
  4. Put the tablespoon of ground flax seeds into a small bowl and mix in the water. Stir well and leave for 5 minutes until it has thickened a bit.
  5. Measure out the almond milk and stir in the lemon juice. Set aside for a couple of minutes.
  6. Whisk together the flax mixture and the almond milk mixture with the melted coconut oil.
  7. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix well until fully combined. This could be done in a stand mixer, or using a large spoon or your hands. Make sure there are no lumps of unhydrated flour left.
  8. Put the mixture into the baking tin. It will be quite dry and you can push it down and even it out with your hands.
  9. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  10. Take the tray out of the oven (but don't turn it off) and remove the foil. If it’s really not cooked, put it back into the oven uncovered for 5-10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes. Invert the semi-cooked dough onto a large chopping board.
  11. Using a large, sharp knife, carefully slice the dough into rectangles. The size is up to you; I like my rusks quite small. You will have lots of crumbs left over, but you can cook these in a small oven-proof dish and add them to soy/coconut yoghurt or porridge.
  12. Spread the rusks out on a larger baking tray, or two smaller trays, and return to the oven. Bake for 30 mins (checking regularly) until golden brown. If they're browning too quickly, cover them with foil again. If they don't look fully cooked, give them 10 more minutes. Then turn the oven right down to 50°C/120°F.
  13. Leave the rusks to dry out for a minumum of 3 hours. You could also leave them in the oven overnight with the pilot light on.
  14. Once finished drying out, remove the rusks from the oven, or just turn the oven off but make sure to leave the oven door ajar so they don't steam.
  15. When the rusks are completely cool, store them in an airtight tin.

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