Drying rusks

Rusks must be brittle and completely dried out to be done. They also last for ages this way. One tip on drying is that the thicker the rusk, the longer it takes to dry – that’s obvious I guess. Less obvious is the denser the rusk in terms of ingredients (the more ingredients the more dense), the longer they take to dry. I also tend to let rusks that have moist ingredients like raisins dry for longer. The lowest my new oven goes is 170 degrees so my drying time is less than previously. Bottom line is you have to check after about 4 – 5 hours.

Tip: The rusks are sufficiently dried if, when you press them between your fingers, they feel solid. If they feel at all spongy dry them out some more.

Once you’ve cut the rusks up, here’s how you dry them out:

Place the individual rusks onto a baking tray leaving spaces in between each one. For the recipes on this site you will need two baking trays – at least one of them large sized.
Leave to dry overnight at about 100 – 125 degrees. If you turn up the heat you will burn the edges of the rusks without really drying them out.

92 replies on “Drying rusks”

I dry my rusks on a wire cooling rack. Takes about 3 hours in a thermofan oven at 100deg.C. Leave the door slightly ajar in order for the moisture to escape.

OK ……. I’m in the US so using a F scale. The lowest my oven goes is 175F. After my loaves were fully cooled, I sliced about 1″ slices then into finger-sized pieces. I put them on a baking sheet and dried at 175F for 1 hr. BUT I had a LOT of loss in my initial slicing. What am I doing wrong? .

from the Cutting page: Sharon’s method

When you take the “rusk slab” out of the oven, cutting it becomes a mission. I’ve tried a bazillion different ways to prevent the rusks from crumbling, and finally came up with this method:

Allow rusk slab to cool for about 5 mins
Cut in half whilst in the pan.
Lay a bread board over top of both halves and flip so that you have it right side up.
Using a finely serrated knife, cut into the hardening crust just to break the crust. Cut strips about 1 inch wide.
Using a smooth, sharp knife, cut right through following the tracks of the serrated knife.
Following the same knife act, cut across the strips into about 1 inch pieces.

From the Cutting page: Sharon’s method

When you take the “rusk slab” out of the oven, cutting it becomes a mission. I’ve tried a bazillion different ways to prevent the rusks from crumbling, and finally came up with this method:

Allow rusk slab to cool for about 5 mins
Cut in half whilst in the pan.
Lay a bread board over top of both halves and flip so that you have it right side up.
Using a finely serrated knife, cut into the hardening crust just to break the crust. Cut strips about 1 inch wide.
Using a smooth, sharp knife, cut right through following the tracks of the serrated knife.
Following the same knife act, cut across the strips into about 1 inch pieces.

Are there any rusk recipes that don’t require drying out in the oven? Feel guilty about leaving the oven on for so long with electricity shortages.

You make a very good point about the amount of electricity drying rusks take. I’ve never tried these ideas but see what you think: If it’s hot and sunny you can try putting them out in the sun to dry, but perhaps cover them with netting for flies. Also, if you’re cooking something else in the oven I would put them in with that. I would even try putting them in with the food towards the end of the cooking, so they warm through but not cook, and then they can stay in while the over cools down or you can turn the oven down and let them dry for a while. Then when you have to cook in the oven again you do the same, until they’re dry. Just some ideas…

Don’t you think that having the oven on at 100C does not really take a lot of electricity? (oven doesn’t need to work that much). I think it’s such less then you’d think.

This is my second try at rusks but my first try in the USA. it was hard to find the exact ingredients but I think I got it right but when I took them out of the oven the first time and I waited 5 minutes and then cut them they crumbled terribly. The inside ones weren’t bad and I’ll dry then overnight tonight but what did I do wrong that the outer ones crumbled when I cut them??? This American who loves rusks from South Africa needs help!!!!

Hi there. I really don’t know why your rusks crumbled so. My first thoughts are that the mixture might have been too dry? It’s a real shame though. Here are some tips you can try:

1. Use a finely serrated knife for cutting the rusks, and start at the edges of the pan using a “sawing” motion to gently break into the baked dough.Then use short, “sawing” strokes as you cut through the length of the pan, rather than dragging the knife and causing a stress on the fragile dough.
2. If you do have lots of crumbs, don’t throw them away – they’re delicious as toppers on apple crumble, or with yoghurt or icecream. That way you still enjoy the rusks you worked so hard to bake.

Let us know how the next attempt goes.

I dry the crumbs. . . I put ceral in my bowl in the morning, then some apole and banana. Top with some yoghurt and sprinkle dried rusk crumbs on top. I love it. . . I also make coffee, then put some dried crumps in a bowl. As I eat the crumbs I take a sip of coffee. no waste

I find it best if you leave the bread intact till the next day, then cutting is easy and they do not crumble. Works every time.

I’ve discovered two ways to make the cutting easier: cut the dough right through at the intervals you require. I like 3cm by 3 cm. When it’s baked through it it’s much easier to work your way through the baked dough. You can also buy, at baking stores or markets (Irene market in Pretoria) a metal divider, similar to the one that used to come with the ice tray,which you place into the dough before baking. That automatically does away with cutting – and also with crumb wastage. t’s quite pricey and I’ve never got around to buying it, but that’s what the pro’s who supply Home Industries etc use.

I use a pizza cutter to cut through the dough before baking. When the trays come out of the oven I let them cool down and then cut again along the same grooves as before. The rusks can then be seperated easily and wastage is reduced.

Hi, I’m from Cape Town….how can I get hold of a metal divider that you mentioned. Do you have contact details, perhaps. Please…desperate!

Good day to you. Good “Pannemerwe” this guy makes these pans. It comes in a set of two pans and one presser. I press before going into the oven and take presser out again. After baking I cool down the baked slab completely and then just break my rusks where cut lines were.

Mmmm. I’ve never used a gas oven. Hopefully someone following this blog has a good answer for you. Have you tried searching the internet? There must be people out there who have used a gas oven to dry food. I did a quick search – nothing extensive – and found this: “The temperature is warmest closest to the heating element. If you have a gas stove with a pilot light, that may be enough to give you the temperature you need. The way to check is to put a thermometer on the top rack and close the door. Check in an hour and see what the reading is. If it’s not high enough, you’ll need to turn the oven on warm. Check the temperature after half an hour.” There’s more on this site but I don’t know if it answers your question as I didn’t spend more time digging.

Gas ovens also have temperture control. I made rusks in the U.K. using a gas oven. Set the temp at about 100C or about 150F or nearest. You will need to keep an eye on it to ensure it works for you. I prefer gas ovens and cooking tops to electric.

I put my rusks in my gas oven on the lowest setting, which was 1/2(half), for 3 hours with the door slightly ajar. Then switched off the oven and closed the door. A few hours later, once cooled, I did exactly the same thing again…Half setting for 3 hours with door ajar. They came out perfect, without any burning at all.

I make them the way my mom taught me. Instead of putting the whole slab of dough into a baking tray, I roll balls and just put them in the tray touching each other, that way when they are cooked they are all individual and you just gently just pull them apart, they usually tear really easily and I find it’s much nicer to dunk an imperfect rusk rather than fingers. If anyone is familiar with ouma rusks from South Africa then that is what they look like.

Hi Lyn. I’m not sure how convection microwaves work but the standard microwaves will not dry rusks. Have you ever tried warming up pastry or pizza in a microwave and noticed how soggy they become? I believe the same will happen to the rusks. But….I’ve not tried!

Not that I know of. You could try putting them out in the sun like they do with pumpkin seeds but you need a very dry climate and you’d need to put netting over them to keep flies off (of course they would have to be baked first). Or you could try in a biltong dryer or a food dryer. I’ve not tried any of these methods but hey, if it works let us know!

Help my ruska are burning before they can dry out. I am not sure what I am doing wrong? This is my first time making them. Am I supposed to leave the oven door open or ajar, when I,am drying them out?

Oh dear. It sounds like your heat is too high. I set my oven to it’s lowest possible temp for drying out and leave it like that for 5 – 6 hours. They shouldn’t burn at that low temp.

I never leave the door ajar. The rusks dry out with the door closed. You can, at some point in the drying, open the door briefly to let the steam out but I sometimes forget to do that and the rusks dry just fine.

Rusks need to be hard so they don’t fall apart when you dunk them. Some people even like them brittle to give them a nice bite. But folk who are not accustomed to rusks and don’t understand that they SHOULD be hard and brittle are surprised when they first try to bake them. 🙂

Is there other methods for drying out rusks. ..when on prepaid power, it eats the power quickly

I’m afraid I don’t really know. If you live in a very sunny, dry and hot place you can try drying them in the sun like you would dry out fruit. I’m sure that’s what the old Voortrekkers did!

Good evening, i have a 100% gas stove. With load shedding and all a good choice. the only problem I encounter is drying rusks. the lowest temp on the oven is 180 degrees Celsius. someone spoke about a pan with washed river sand in the bottom. what about sliding a pan or 2 inbetween the rusks where they dry. It should devide the heat?
Please help with a solution. 2 heads are better than 1.

If you dry rusks and it turns out wasn’t long enough when you get to eat them, can you go back and dry them more?

I also have a problem drying out rusks in the oven because of the electricity usage. A thermofan oven definately helps. I just want to put something out there…… what if you lay the rusks on a baking tray once baked and let a strong fan blow on them for about five hours?

Hi, just baked some health rusks with seeds, bran and raisins, all things that normally lead to a lot of crumbling. But the recipe said a had to dip a knife in hot water and cut the dough in the pan into the shape/size I wanted the baked rusks to have. It worked fine. I repeated cutting along the cutting lines before removing the warm rusks from the pans and they came out with less crumbs. Next time I will even cut them in smaller rectangles to use less time for drying.

I also have a problem with my gas stove. I’ve started baking to earn some extra money, but can’t dry the rusks as the lowest temperature on the temperature control knob is 140 degrees Celsius. Which means the real temperature is plus minus 160 degrees. It’s a gas stove with an electric grill. When baking the heat only comes from below. The rusks bakes perfectly but then I can’t dry them! I’m so frustrated. Someone, please tell me that there is a solution to this problem. Not even the manufacturers of the stove (La Germania Bertazzoni) seems to be able to suggest a solution.

I’ve tried a microwave. Small amounts of rusks at short burst of drying 1 min @100% and then stand fo 1 min. Repeat until crunchy as toast! Yip it’s time consuming. I also dry my herbs in micro wave and let them sit on a kichen towel on the counter to complete proses.

What a great idea, Amanda. I’ve not heard of people drying anything in a microwave. In my experience things go soggy in the micro. When you say you let them stand for 1 min. is that with the microwave door open? Also, how long do you microwave your herbs for and what quantity of herbs are you drying at one time?

I’m not sure exactly, but when this has happened to my rusks in the past it’s been because my dough was too wet and then I had to dry it out for a really long time. The wet dough is then more dense, less porous, and therefore harder.

Hi, is the temp above in Fahrenheit or Celsius? I usually do 170 degrees Fahrenheit because I live in the USA now. But just want to be sure what is the proper way. Thanks

How do I dry rusks in the newer Bosch ovens, because when the door is a little ajar, the oven won’t go on/work. Or do I set it on hot air and close the door? My mom leaves her defy oven door ajar when she dries rusks

My mother made a mistake with her buttermilk rusks which came out like shortbread and we fell in love with it but now she cant remember what she did to get it that way any ideas?

Pre cut your rusks before you bake them. Makes it easier to cut them loose when they come out of the oven. You press the dough into your baking trays and then with a ruler and a sharp knife cut the rusks in the pan. Bake as normal. When you take it from the oven the lines are already there for them to be cut. Use a sharp french chef’s or butcher’s knife and cut while still in the pans. Then take them out to be dried out. You get perfect neat slices and no breakages

Great tip. Thanks. I use a serrated tomato knife to cut mine so that the crust doesn’t crack. But that’s without precutting them first so maybe the lines/indentations of the precutting will prevent this.

The best and easiest way to cut rusks is with an electric carving knife. Very easy and very little loss. In Canada they have jerky drying racks which I use and it is wonderful. I am able to dry my rusks thoroughly overnight in a 150F oven and no, it does not chew up a lot of electricity…..

I bought a new oven and the oven shut down as soon the door is open for drying out the rusks. I have to convections oven using for making home made biscuits, can I use them to dry the rusks and the door of the oven, should it be open or closed. There useage of electricy is very low

I dry mine in a conventional oven on the lowest heat with the oven door closed. They dry perfectly. After 5 or 6 hours I switch the oven off. They still feel slightly soft by completely harden once they are cool.

My rusks come out hard it doesn’t soak well in coffee. What is my mistake? I also find that it doesn’t rise so good.

Hi Sharon thanks for that comment, Yes I think My Flour was not too fresh. I bought a new one will try again soon.

I dont know why my rusks come out rock hard. They dont soak up coffee. Another thing is I use normal Flour with added bicarb and baking soda and they dont rise so much. Please advise.

The recipe I use the most often is Nuts n Seeds (which is on this site). I also don’t use self-raising flour so you’ll see this recipe calls for quite a lot of baking powder. Perhaps you weren’t using enough?

Hi ladies – I tend to get rock hard rusks or ones that are too soft. I live in Canada and I feel it has something to do with the four and moisture absorption. Any thoughts? Also if you have made rusks and they are too soft (not brittle enough) can you put them back in the oven the next day and try again to dry them some more?

Hi Donna. Yes you can put your rusks back into the oven the next day to continue drying. I find that if my dough is too wet it yields a very hard rusk. I also live in Canada and mine I generally fine. If my flour is too old I can run into issues too, so that’s something to consider as well.

If you have an electric carving knife, it can make things much, much easier. Trust me, this does the trick every time, without the rusks crumbling everywhere. Take them out the oven and let them rest of 5 minutes. Remove from the loaf tin and, while they are still warm and have the consistency of scones/American biscuits, use the electric carving knife to cut through. Do NOT cut through the top first. Start slicing from the flat underneath side which is softer. If you don’t have an electric carving knife, use a very sharp serrated bread knife, following the same method.

Great tip! Thanks. I use a serrated knife that is finer than a bread knife, and I start from one of the edges, keeping the tip of the knife pointed down almost vertically, to prevent breakage. But the electric knife sounds so much easier!

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