Munching and Crunching my way through one of my favourite comfort foods.
Rusks are my ultimate favourites when it comes to munching on something with a warm cup of tea or as a small snack option to keep me going for the afternoon. Unfortunately, store - bought rusks are often packed with added sugars and saturated fats, and can very quickly become an unhealthy snack.
My rustic version is an adapted version of a healthier recipe I have used in the past. And I am very happy to say they turned out well. These rusks are high in fiber with minimal added sugar(s) and jam-packed with heart healthy fats. They are a great way to start your day or enjoy them as a snack. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! I have to hide half the batch away from my family otherwise they are gone within a few days!
Recipe adapted and adjusted from Eating for Sustainable Energy
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 60 - 70 minutes
Drying Time: 4 - 5 hours (best is to dry them overnight)
Serving size: Makes around 40 - 50 medium sized rusks
3 cups (750 ml or 450 g) cake or wholewheat flour (or a combination)
1 heaped Tbsp (20 ml) baking powder
1 tsp (5 ml) bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) salt
1.5 cups (300 g) wholewheat or chocolate Pronutro*
1/2 cup (50 g) rolled oats
1/2 cup (25 g) digestive bran
1/4 cup (40 g) chia seeds
1 cup (60 g) desiccated coconut
2 heaped cups (250 g) trail mix (mixed nuts, seeds and raisins)
2 medium eggs
1/2 cup (120 g) sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla essence
1/2 cup (125 ml) extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
2 cups (500 ml) low fat buttermilk**
2 medium golden delicious apples, finely grated
*Pronutro is a maize cereal that is fortified with vitamins and minerals and provides additional fiber and protein. Futurelife cereal can also be used as a substitute. If you can't get any of these, substitute the 1.5 cups for 1 cup flour + 1/2 cup flavoured protein powder.
**Substitute 500ml buttermilk with 2 cups (500 ml) low fat plain yoghurt + 1/2 cup (125ml) milk
Preheat the oven to 180C and lightly grease two smaller baking trays (approx. 25cm x 25cm) or one larger baking tray (approx. 34cm x 28cm) using spray and cook and baking paper.
In a large bowl: Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together. Add in the pronutro, oats, digestive bran, coconut, seeds and or trail mix. Mix to incorporate some air into the dry mixture.
In a medium bowl: beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla essence, oil and buttermilk together. Add the grated apples to the wet mixture. Mix well.
Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture. I used a hand beater to mix the batter. The mixture should not be sloppy, but thick and still be able to spoon into the baking tray(s).
Add the rusk batter to the well - greased baking tray(s). Make markings on the rusks prior to baking as it will allow for easier cutting.
Bake at 180C for about 40 minutes or until done (golden brown), and then reduce the heat to 150C and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 15 minutes. Cut into medium slices, spread them out on trays that have newspapers and dry out the rusks in the oven at about 70C for 4 - 5 hours. Tip: Wedge a wooden spoon in the oven door to keep it slightly ajar to allow for a small draft. This helps the drying process and makes the rusks extra crunchy! For crunchier rusks, let them rest overnight in the oven once you have dried them for a few hours. If overnight, switch the oven off completely and close the oven door.
Store in an airtight container!
I'll just be here ... munching on my delicious rusks.
Snack Attack: Although this is a health-ier rusk recipe, rusks are still considered a treat and need to be munched in moderation. By adding bran and heart healthy fats (nuts, seeds, chia seeds) it helps to boost the fiber profile - keeping you fuller for longer and making it more of a balanced snack i.e. for my clients, one medium rusk is equivalent to roughly 1 starch and 1 fat portion.
Unsaturated Fats: Most of the fats in the recipe are unsaturated sources e.g. sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and chia seeds. I also used an unsaturated fat oil (extra virgin olive oil vs butter in the traditional recipe) for the fat source. Although desiccated coconut is a saturated type of fat, I incorporated it for the taste and for a different textured profile.
Sugar(s): Yes, this recipe does include sugar. Most traditional rusk recipes call for 1 - 2 cups of sugar, and unfortunately you cannot completely omit sugar from a rusk recipe (I have tried, and it's not great). However, where I can, I try to reduce the amount of sugar, and therefore opted to reduce it and add in 2 grated apples for some natural sweetness.