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Sunday, August 01, 2010

therapeutic rusks

As mentioned before, mother and sister and brother-in-law came to visit again today. It was nice to  see them again so soon. The One and I decided to bake rusks as a gift for them and to give them our matineé concert that we were too timid to give before. So we invited them for soup. I felt  rather  silly about the choice of menu now, since the weather had improved and it was almost hot again at  lunchtime.

We had to clean the place this morning, so we baked the rusks yesterday afternoon. After having gone  to Checkers and bought the ingredients and cleaning supplies. We exhausted our stash of Handy Andy,  ICU as well as Oust when we cleaned the last time.

We I bought lemon and poppy seed muffins as well because they are my favourite. They had a strange,  green hue when I broke one in half and were disgusting, raw and gelatinous. I had one and we sent the  rest to Joseph (Mother's Rottweiler), they were so unpalatable.

This is Mrs Steenkamp's Grandmother's rusk recipe. Mrs Steenkamp was The One's Grade Two teacher, a  colleague of his mother. These are simply the most delicious rusks I have ever eaten.

All Bran Buttermilk Rusks

Melt 500g baking margarine. Save the wrapping paper in the fridge whenever you can, because they are  ideal, once thawed, for greasing the pans. Mother gave me that hint. Mix in 1 cup sugar, 2-3 lightly  beaten eggs and 500ml buttermilk. Mix in 1kg self raising flower, 10ml baking powder, 4 cups All Bran  Flakes (measured before gently crushing) and 1tsp salt. Have a good workout, at the same time  handling the dough as lightly and little as possible.

Press lightly into two shallow greased oven tins, and bake at 180°C for 20 minutes. Our oven being  small but potent, I swap the pans halfway because I have to bake them simultaneously.

Optional: sprinkle sesame and poppy seed over the flattened dough and lightly tap before baking.

Cut in strips after cooling and dry out at 100°C for 1 hour and then at 70°C for 2 hours.

The age of the recipe is evident in the fact that it contains metric units as well as whatever-you- have-in-the-kitchen ones. My contribution to this recipe is converting the 10ml baking powder from 1  dessert spoon. Do you ever know what a dessert spoon is?

While I was busy making the dough, the Christmas spirit came over me. The One was outside, sorting  out our parking spot with the landlord and their sullen son in law. He had to phone and ask them to  move the car so that we could get in. He handles things like that for us because I get rude with the  people. In any case, the newly bought vanilla incense calmed me and it felt like I was working in the  kitchen the day before Christmas. The gentle afternoon sun played over my working hands.

There is another thing this recipe is good for - frayed nerves.  I always just stick my hands  straight in the dough to mix it instead of trying to mix the tough dough with a wooden spoon. This  has excellent healing and nourishing properties for your hands. It is very comforting. Try it, it's  the best manicure. All those little membranes around your fingernails will become soft and even and  your hands glossy and smooth, even after washing them thoroughly. Use warm water for that.

Another thing I have changed in this recipe is to replace the white sesame with natural sesame. I  like the nutty taste.

What would make this recipe better? Replace the margarine with butter. Add roughly chopped cashews.  But even just the economy version is pretty good. Trust me.

I messed up by doubling the recipe but still baking it in two tins. There was too much dough in the  tins and it didn't rise well and was not properly baked in the middle. So I tried to compensate by cutting very thin strips - too thin, as it turns out. They were terribly brittle and disintegrated  when I tried to transfer them to the wire rack for drying. I managed to get enough good ones for  Mother and sister. The One and I will have the misshapen, raw ones.

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