As I experiment with rusk recipes I find that there are some adaptations that can be made that don’t impact the overall “rusk experience.” Let me know if you have tips to share.

Substitutes and alternatives

Buttermilk: Lately I’ve been able to find 2% buttermilk. But you can also make your own buttermilk three different ways:

  • With yogurt: Mix either 50:50 or 3/4 cup plain yogurt (must have bacterial culture
    high in the ingredients list) with 1/4 cup of milk.  Stir together.
  • With lemon or vinegar:  Fill a 1-cup measuring cup (250ml) with 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon or vinegar and allow to stand
    juice and milk.  Stir and leave for 2 minutes.
  • With Cream of Tartar: Mix 1 cup (250 ml)  of milk with 1.75 teaspoon cream of
    tartar.  First dissolve the cream of tartar in 2 Tablespoons of the milk.  Then
    add the remaining  milk.

Self-raising flour: Most of the recipes on this site call for 1 kg flour. In some countries it’s hard to find self-raising flour. You can substitute with:

  • For every cup of flour add 1.5 tsp baking powder and a small pinch of salt.
  • For all the recipes on this site add to the 1kg of flour, 40ml baking powder and 30ml baking soda and your rusks will rise nicely.

Eggs: Some people have sensitivities to eggs or are vegan. I’ve not tried these but here are some egg substitutes I’ve heard about:

  • Use flax seeds as egg replacer in baking. To replace one egg use 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds plus 3 tablespoons water (or other liquid). Stir together until thick and gelatinous. Or you can add 1 tablespoon whole flaxseeds with 4 tablespoons water (or other liquid) and process seeds in a blender to a fine meal, add liquid and blend well.

Healthier options

  • Reduce sugar: The original rusk recipes all seem to call for 2 cups (500 ml) of sugar. I use 250 – 300ml. That’s about half and the rusk still tastes good. I find the recipes that include dried fruit or sweetened cereal (e.g. muesli, sweetened cornflakes, etc.) work well with just 250 ml (one cup) of sugar.
  • Reduce fat: You can reduce the fat from the usual 500g to 300g without affecting the final product.

Dantier, prettier, easier to eat

  • The “finger cut” style of cutting rusks is way easier to eat and a better option for serving guests so they don’t have to open their mouths like hippos to get around the traditional cut!
  • The thinnest I’ve cut rusks is about7mm (3/8″)
  • Chopping nuts: Chopping roasted nuts is easier because they’re brittle.
  • Chopping dried fruit is a messy business. Chopping creates a sticky lump. Sprinkle a little flour on the fruit. It separates the little pieces of fruit and makes it easier to handle.
  • Using the crumbs: Cutting the rusks leaves lots of delicious crumbs that would be a shame to waste. You can use them in different ways:
  1. Try using them as topping for apple or any other fruit crumble.
  2. They’re a great sprinkle on yoghurt or icecream.
  3. Jean, one of our reader’s says they make a great biscuit crust for fridge tarts.
  4. Eat them by the handful as a snack.
  1. Jen
    June 20, 2014 at 7:13 am mother has been craving ouma&woolies rusks in canada and sadly there isnt a south african shop close by were she can buy planning on visiting her in a few weeks&thought i’d surprise her with a tin full of home-baked rusks! Your recipes look amazing but there’s just one mother doesnt eat eggs:( is there a good egg substitute that you’ve tried in your bakings that turned out well or do you have a recipe without eggs please? I desperately want to surprise her!

    • June 20, 2014 at 4:02 pm

      Hi Jen. Unfortunately I don’t know of any egg substitutes, but try doing a Google search on rusk recipes with egg substitutes – you never know!

    • sam
      June 30, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Vegans use flax seeds as egg replacer in baking. Look up any vegan baking website for more info. Here’s the basic recipe:

      To replace one egg:
      1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
      3 tablespoons water (or other liquid)

      Stir together until thick and gelatinous.

      You can also use whole flaxseeds:

      1 tablespoon whole flaxseeds
      4 tablespoons water (or other liquid)

      Process seeds in a blender to a fine meal, add liquid and blend well.

      Good luck!

      • July 3, 2014 at 5:30 pm

        Wow, thanks, Sam!

      • July 3, 2014 at 5:36 pm

        Sam, I’ve added this to the Tips page. Do you have vegan substitutes for buttermilk? If you do adapt any of the recipes on this site to be totally vegan friendly I’d love it if you would send along your recipe so I can add it for others to use. Thanks!

  2. nik
    July 19, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    1 cup of flour + 1.5 tsp of soda ???? I think that “soda” is grate to eat??? Self raising flour is bad staff as well. Any chance to avoid any of this? Just read about soda on a reliable health web site and see for yourself what is that. No surprise that people have a bad breath. It is not from teeth but from stomach.

    • July 21, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      Hi. You need a levening agent to make the rusk dough rise. The options I’m aware of are baking soda or baking powder. I encourage you to follow the link to read about food chemistry where you’ll see that baking powder’s raising agent is Cream of Tartar which comes from distilled grapes. The problem, I feel, is that nothing is pure and nothing on it’s own is entirely good for you. Opinions and science facts vary wildly sometimes on the same topic. It’s hard for us consumers to know what the right thing is to do. There is so little baking powder in the quantity of rusk dough I can’t imagine it would be too bad. Probably the sugar or fat is worse, who knows?

    • Debi
      January 13, 2015 at 11:48 am

      Don’t be silly! These are meant to be a treat. You’ll be ok.

  3. Jean
    September 21, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Rusk crumbs make great biscuit crust for fridge tarts

    • September 21, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      What a great idea. I’ll add it to the list of tips!

  4. Erica
    May 12, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    If I don’t want fruit in the rusks, can I just leave them out of the recipe? Or do I have to adjust the other ingredients too?

    • May 12, 2016 at 11:36 pm

      I’ve just left the fruit or nuts out without making any other adjustments and it’s been fine.

  5. May 20, 2018 at 11:23 am

    Hi. On Friday I baked condensed milk rusks for the first time . Although the results were good , we noticed a sour taste because of the cream of tartar and we couldn’t taste the condensed milk and sugar combination . The recipe require self-raising flour, butter, salt , sugar, milk and cream of tartar. Should I include vanilla essence next time and bicarbonate of soda ?

  6. May 21, 2018 at 7:08 pm

    You’re right it’s strange there were no eggs in the Spar recipe. I can’t imagine how that would work and I didn’t notice it until you pointed it out. I think the most traditional rusks are made with yeast.

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