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.

  1. Babs Putar
    April 30, 2014 at 8:45 am

    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.

  2. Paula Segrest
    December 21, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    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? .

    • happy
      February 3, 2015 at 8:38 am

      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.

  3. happy
    February 3, 2015 at 8:37 am

    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.

  4. Nazneen
    August 7, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    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.

    • August 7, 2015 at 10:36 pm

      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…

  5. Nazneen
    August 8, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Thanks, will give it a try

  6. Anne
    August 11, 2015 at 9:52 am

    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.

  7. Sarah
    December 10, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    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!!!!

    • December 12, 2015 at 4:23 am

      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.

  8. Felicia Fourie
    December 13, 2015 at 10:03 am

    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.

  9. susan coetzee
    June 13, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    how can i dry rusks in a gas oven ?

    • June 13, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      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.

    • Eric von Bardeleben
      February 5, 2017 at 5:04 pm

      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.

      • February 6, 2017 at 4:53 pm

        Great tips! Thanks for sharing those. I’m sure others with gas ovens will find this helpful.

  10. Me
    October 7, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    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.

  11. Lyn Sewell
    November 9, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Anyone tried drying the cooked rusks in a microwave?

    • November 9, 2016 at 6:19 pm

      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!

  12. Freddie
    February 12, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Is there no other way to dry ruscks

    • February 14, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      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!

  13. Erin
    March 18, 2017 at 10:40 am

    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?

    • March 30, 2017 at 10:09 pm

      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.

  14. Enslie
    May 6, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    Why would the rusks be too hard and not really brittle enough?

    • May 8, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      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. 🙂

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