Buttermilk rusks seem to be the “original” version in South Africa, and there are bazillions of recipes. I’ve included a few on this page. If you can’t find self-raising flour check out the tip under the “Alternatives” heading.

Dee’s buttermilk rusks

Dee and I met when I was doing a gap year after high school. I stayed with her family for a while and we had a blast. Dee then came and visited me and I remember we went to the Spur for a mushroom burger and both got sick! Anyway, I’m sure Dee’s recipe won’t make anyone sick. It was her grannie’s.

1kg self raising flour
250g butter
200ml sugar
320ml buttermilk
10ml baking powder
2 eggs
5ml salt
25ml oil.

Sift dry ingredients together.
Rub in butter.
Add eggs and oil. Mix well.
Make a well in the centre of the dough and add the buttermilk.
Knead well.

Roll into balls about 1 inch in diameter and pack tightly into a baking dish about 2 inches deep or press dough evenly into a baking sheet.

Bake 180 for 45mins.

Use any of the cutting methods for rusks. If you rolled them into balls before baking you’ll break those up by hand instead of cutting them.  Dry out in a low oven after cutting.

Esther’s buttermilk rusks

This recipe comes from The Complete South African Cook Book.

Esther and I were at high school together. After school she married her penpal and moved to the US. They recently celebrated their 30th anniversary!

1 kg self-rising flour
2 eggs
200ml (4/5 cup) sugar
190g butter, melted
500ml buttermilk
5ml (1 tsp) baking powder
10 ml salt

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
Beat the eggs, sugar and buttermilk together.
Cut this mixture into the dry ingredients with a knife.
Knead the dough lightly, gradually adding the butter while kneading. This will take about 7 minutes.

Roll dough into balls. Place balls of the dough next to each other in bread tins. The balls should reach to about 2/3 the height of the tin.
Place in the oven immediately and bake at 180 deg C (350 F) for 30 minutes.

Turn out onto a cooling rack and break into individual rusks.
Lower the heat of the oven to 100 deg C (200 deg F) or less and dry the rusks in the oven. Turn them every 30 mins.

71 replies on “Buttermilk”

I wonder which one of them taste like buttermilk rusks from woolworth? Trying to find a rusk recipe that taste like the woolworth one ever since my friend gave us some. Yummmmm…

Hi there. I agree, Woolworths rusks are absolutely delicious and that’s what got me starting this blog other first place. I’m not familiar with their buttermilk Rusks as I usually go for the bran or muesli Rusks. The rusk recipe that is most similar to those is the Nuts and Seeds recipe in this blog.

Hi there, I tried a slight variation on the Buttermilk rusks today; I used the standard recipe, and I used real buttermilk, which was quite old, so nice and thick. I added: muesli, salted sunflower seeds, dried apricots and dried walnuts. The seeds, nuts & apricots I chopped coarsely in a food processor. I used oat bran because that’s what I had.

Baked for 45 mins at C 180. Then followed ‘Sharon’s method” to unmould, and cut.

THEN, I dried them in a 100C oven for about 4 hrs. For the last 45 mins or so, I took the baking paper off the baking sheets, and put the paper & rusks directly on the baking shelf, so that air circulates very well around the biscuits. I find that this last step makes all the difference.

They are really good. and I plan to make this again. Cheers

Great idea to chop up the fruit and nuts in the processor. Now why didn’t I think of that? 🙂

A 4 hr drying time is amazing! And it makes so much sense to dry them on the paper on the rack for better air circulation. Thanks for sharing. I plan to add your process to the page content itself as others might like to try, so thanks for sharing it.

These are very interesting recipes, however with Esther’s version you mention 200ml (4/5 cup)??? of what?

Good question! I’m terribly sorry. Going through the recipe instructions and comparing the ingredients to the other buttermilk recipes that are there, I think the omission was sugar! Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

Thank for all the lovely rusk recipes and i will get experimenting. For a kg of flour what size tin to you require. Is it best to roll them into balls (again what size) or bake them in the tins and cut them. I am running a small catering business in the Cape and i would like to get into making rusks. Is there a more economical way of drying your rusks out without using an oven as it must be very costly having it on for all those hours. I would appreciate any advice. Thanks

Hi Nicky, thanks for contacting RuskRecipes. To answer your questions: I don’t roll the duo into balls. I find that pressing the dough into a large baking sheet (not an industrial sized one but one of those that you can buy at Clicks or shops like that).

Re drying in the oven….someone else who commented on a recipe on my blog said she used her dehydrator to dry the rusks but she didn’t say how long it took. I believe that a low oven uses relatively little electricity. It is a long time though. Because I press the dough into a baking sheet my rusks are thinner than those where the dough is rolled into balls, so they dry quicker. Some people who have commented on the blog say theirs dry in 4 hours. It all depends on the oven, I suppose.

Hi Sam. I feel for you. A lot of people can’t do wheat and rusks use a whole kilo of it! I have no idea what the following recipes are like but they turned up in a quick Google search:

This one uses rice flour and gluten free flour (didn’t know that existed)
This one pretty much also uses rice flour and gluten free white flour and this page actually has positive comments of people who’ve tried them. Like I say, I’ve never tried so let us know what they’re like if you try either of these recipes.

Buttermilk Rusks  (gluten-free)

– 1kg gluten-free cake flour
– 280g sugar
– 250g butter
– 3 eggs
– 333ml buttermilk

1) Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour and sugar.
2) Make a well in the centre and use a dough hook attachment on your mixer
to add the eggs and butttermilk (the consistensy will be like a thick scone batter).
3) Roll balls and put them next to eachother
in a loaf tin or a cake tin or something with edges.
4) Bake at 150 degrees Celsius for 30 – 40 mins (till golden)
BUT you have to start watching them after 20 mins already.
5) THEN you take them out, break them apart, eat a few
as delicious/rich/soft scones
with jam and double thick cream on
put the rest on a wire rack on a baking sheet in the oven at 50 degrees Celsius
with a wooden spoon in the oven door for air flow
and bake it for a few hours (mine took 2 – 3 hours)
till it’s the crispy texture of a rusk.
Geniet dit!
Enjoy it!

Hello, I’m Barbara from Mauritius, and I’m a GREAT fan of Rusk. I’m doing them and sell them. I’ve tried a lot of recipe until I get The one. Sometimes I used white flour only with cranberries, or half brown & white flour. I have some questions please : is it essential to put oil ? ( I put more butter ). Is it better to use self raising flour? And now, the cutting… I pre-cut them ( before cooking ) with a wet knife, 2cms / 8 cms, it tooks me a long time! Then when its cooked its very easy to cut them, with a good bread Knife. I never tried to make balls, I think my dough is not dry enough, too sticky. Can you put balls on top of the other one? I would like to make a metalspecialist to do a special rusk-cutter, but I’m sure this kind of stuff exists in S.A? I’m sorry for my english, I speak french. Anyway, home we are rusk lovers, even if it tooks time, they are so good! Thanks to answer me. Barbara

Thanks for contacting us. It’s nice to connect with another rusk fan 🙂 If you look at the various recipes available most of them use butter. Personally I’ve never used the recipe with oil. Because in Canada where I live you can’t buy self raising flour I use flour with baking powder, but when I lived in South Africa I used self raising flour. Both work.

It’s interesting that you pre-cut them before you bake them. I will try that! Thanks for the idea. If you decide to try the balls, put flour on your hands so you can handle the dough, roll them into balls and put them NEXT TO each other tightly – don’t put them on top of each other.

There is a guy named Jan Brits who makes metal rusk cutters and you can check out his website here. I’ve never tried using them but if you look at the conversations on the cutting rusks page you will find someone who has and you can ask her about her experience.

Good luck.

Hi, thanks to answer me. In fact, doing rusk is easy, its the cutting which is more delicate. By cutting them before the cooking ( with a very thin and wet knife ), there no crumbling at all, just a little little bit ( and I have about 80 rusks for 1kg of flour ). I went on Ian’s site, its interesting to have this rusk cutter, but I’m far from S.A, I don’t know if they can send them. Do you think the way I melt them is important? 1st the sugar and the butter, 2nd the eggs, 3rd the buttermilk and 4th the flour/oats/all bran etc.. Are you using an electric whisk?
I usually let the rusk dry all over night ( from 10 o’clock until 6h30 the morning ) on 70º C.
Have you ever tried to dry for 4 or 6 hours? Thanks and have a nice evening. Barbara

No, I don’t use an electrick whisk as the mixture comes together easily by hand.
Yes, I do dry my rusks out in about 6 hours at 170C
If you contact the guy who makes the rusk cutter he will be able to tell you whether he can ship to your country or not.
Happy dunking!

Hi, thanks to reply. I’ve tried another way of doing rusk, by melting the butter ( I did’nt knew it was possible ), I first used to make rusk like a cake… By melting the butter, no need an electric whisk, much more easier! I got a very nice recipe on : tinashappyplace.wordpress.com, her recipe called BEST RUSK RECIPE EVER. Please, could you look at it and let me know if it is the best/easier way to process ? I’m OK with the recipe, they are all more or less the same, but I’m not sure of the processing… Thank you very much and have a nice evening. Barbara

Hi Barbara, the process looks the same as the process in most of the recipes on ruskrecipes.com. I melt the butter on the stove not in the microwave but either way will work. I also beat the eggs before I add the buttermilk just because the eggs beat up easier (I do it by hand. If you’re using an electric mixer then beating them together is no problem). Hope this helps.

Hi Anne. In my experience, drying rusks out in 2.5 hours is just not possible. However, it might be if the dough is pressed really thin into the pan – more like a biscuit or cookie, but I’m guessing…I’ve not tried it like that.

Hi I was able to dry out rusks in 2-3 hours.. just make sure:

1. Temp is 160 or 170 degrees
2. Remember to turn rusk half way through the time
3. When considerably dried out but not completely.. SWITCH OFF OVEN AND LET RUSK REST INSIDE WITHOUT OPENING THE OVEN DOOR for an hour or 2..

Thanks for sharing your experience with other viewers. I dry my rusks at 170 and there’s no way they’re anywhere near dry after 3 hours….more like 5 in my experience. But clearly ovens heat and ventilate differently as it’s working for you. You’re lucky!

Turn your oven fan on and dry out at 90-100ºC leaving the oven door slightly open. I wedge a potato peeler in the door. Rusks dry between 3-4 hours.

This recipe sounds a lot like the one I use from South Africa. I add 1/2 c of pecans, 1 c coconut, and 1/2 c raisins and or dried cranberries. OH YUM!! I love them. And I can’t resist eating a slice hot out of the oven before cooling, cutting into ‘dunk size’ pieces, and REbaking.

Hey, I used to make the first recipy with my gran, but we did not roll them in balls, we press it into a baking pan. After it’s baked; cut it in to 2x2cm (give and take) drying time @ 100’C is 2hours. 🙂

Hi everyone, I start baking rusks 3 years ago and when i bake buttermilk rusks i m using a square 35x35cm pan about 3cm high complete with a fixed cutter. So when i place the dough in the pan -about 2cm high – i press down the cutterblades. The rusks size 3 x 7 cm and dries out in 3 hours time at 90C. The hight of rusks is about 3cm.

A Google search didn’t show up any tips on how to make bran rich flour. Are you perhaps looking for whole wheat flour or the South African version called Nutty Wheat? I believe both those have high bran content.

It is a South African recipe for low GI Rusks. And it calls for rich bran flour. I could give you the recipe. Thanks again for your help

Please do share the recipe and I can put it up on the blog. Also, let me know who or which author/publication I should attribute it to. Thanks very much, it will be great!

hi, have had hand surgery and cant knead dough for a while, need a buttermilk rusk recipe
that doesn’t have to be kneaded, hope u can help

Hi Tessa, sorry to hear about your hand. Hope you get better soon. So I haven’t tried this with rusk dough but it’s how I make my pastry so it should work for rusks. I would try stirring the ingredients together as much as you can (with your good hand!) and then in batches, put it in the food processor until the mixture only just comes together in large-ish balls. Hope that helps.

Hi! I’m Shirley, I live in Canada. I lived in S.A for 10 yrs. Am 11 years old. Wanted to know, can I use regular flour instead of self raising flour? I also wanted to say that cape cookies makes good rusks.

Shirley, I’m so sorry for taking so very long to reply. I lost site of your comment. It’s great you like rusks and remember them from your time in SA. You can use regular flour but you have to add baking powder and all of the recipes tell you how much baking powder to use with regular flour. Let me know how your rusks turn out! Send me your recipe for Cape Cookies so I can check it out. I’ve never heard of them.

I’ve never tried or heard of those rusks but I don’t see why maple syrup can’t be used as a sugar substitute. My only concern would be it adds more liquid.

Hi, I have another tip for the lady who can’t knead. To be honest I HATE cutting butter into flour it’s one of my pet hates. So when I started baking rusks I decided to try melting the butter and then stirring it in instead of rubbing it in and it works! It is so much quicker. The only thing with this method is you need to bake it a bit longer and I don’t believe you’ll be able to use the ball method, you’ll have to bake in a flat sheet and cut afterwards. The texture is probably not as smooth as when you cut it in, but they taste just as good and are so much quicker and easier to make.

Thanks for sharing this tip. I NEVER rub the butter in. Like you, I melt the butter, add the buttermilk and egg to the cooled mixture and then pretty much stir it in – the last bit I have to get in there with my hands to get all the flour blended in – I hate getting my hands oily!! I think you and I have a very similar approach – rolling the dough into balls is too much PT so I also press it in a flat plan. The advantage of this approach is I believe it makes more rusks than the balls – of course it depends on how big you cut the rusks. I usually get about 70-ish out of a batch of dough.

Thanks. How much lemon juice do you use? I’ve never used lemon juice but I can imagine it must be a nice touch. Wow, nice you get 120 rusks out of a batch!

Hi Barbara, I am a South African living in San Diego and dying to find the easiest and best rusk recipe. Seems like everyone on this blog has done a fair amount of homework on trying various ingredients/substitutions. Curious about the lemon juice. What does that do to the taste? Does it come through in a strong way or just a subtle hint of lemon?

Also, are these rusks “flatfish” or more like a Ouma rusk shape? I have been gone for 20+ years but we never forget our Ouma rusks!

Hi there. I’m not too sure what you mean by “flatfish” but basically you can choose how you want to cut the rusks from any of the recipes. I’ll let the person who wrote about the lemon juice originally respond as I’ve never tried it!

Hi Deb,
I also love eating rusks❤️ I put lemon juice with the eggs and the buttermilk, about 2 spoons
( the one for the soup). It is not really for the taste, but it works like eggs, and my rusks are
” lighter “, it ” cuts ” the taste of the flour. Sorry, my french is better than my english. If I can help you, do not hesitate.

That’s really interesting that you say the lemon juice makes the rusks lighter because I find my rusks can sometimes be denser than the bought ones. I’ve always thought it’s because I put too many other things in them – coconut, fruit, sesame seeds, etc. I’m going to try the lemon juice!

Hi, I have used the above recipes but have to replace sugar with Splenda. This seems to make the rusks softer and harder to totally dry out. Any tips? Thank you

Made these last week and have chomped my way through them with coffee. Gave some away to South African pals – to great acclaim. I dried them as suggested for 4 hours – perfectly dry. Can’t testify as to their keeping power but have put them, satisfyingly, in a big tin.

I’m not 100% sure but perhaps you dried them out too long? Also, I find that if I dip a rusk into a latte it doesn’t absorb as well as if it’s just a coffee or tea with a normal amount of milk – possibly the density of the liquid makes for slower absorption….but then again I’m not a scientist so I’m really just guessing! 🙂

I don’t think the drying time will affect it. I have dried for longer periods before and it was no problem. I think the rusks did not bake through although it was cooked before I took it out. But when I broke them op I could see the consistency was still kind of doughy. I will keep trying until I find a decent recipe. I used to bake a lot and had none of this.

My Daughter and I love to experiment with a favorite Rusk recipe. It does not call for any type of flavor, just the basic ingredients. Because we love the recipe and it works well, we would add grated lemon rind and the juice of 2 lemons with 2 T of Lemon essence. We might also add some poppy seeds and whallah, we have our basic whole wheat rusks with a lemon fragrance. It is to die for! (We use the Beskuitvingers recipe in the Huisgenoot – Die Beste van Wenresepte – Annette Human) But I don’t rub the butter in. We instead cream the butter with my kitchen aid and then add the sugar, eggs, some of the dry ingredients and alternate it with the rest of the liquids and all the ingredients. I also place this in a double loaf pan and bake it for 1.5 hrs in the oven. We live in USA – Wisconsin and have to dry out these rusks for a very long time, Usually overnight works the best.

Thank you so much for sharing this with us! I am going to try it out. I’ve never added lemon flavour to rusks but heck, why not? I’ve used orange rind and orange essence though. My rusks in Canada dry out in about 5 or 6 hours!

I have been so disappointed in the flop rusks I haven’t baked any again. Soon I will bake some and will try the lemon essence too. I think my previous batch was packed too close to each other in the pan and they didn’t have space to rise ………

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