Rusks

Rusks

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

Pieces of bread which have been dried out in the oven, a process which produces a good nutty flavour as well as a crisp texture. One of Italy’s favourite nibbles, remembered with nostalgia by many travellers, consists of oven-dried slices of an especially made, slightly sweet, aniseflavoured bread. Another type of rusk, produced commercially for teething babies, is made by slowly baking fingers of bread dough until they are hard; grissini, the thin, crisp Italian-style bread sticks, are made in the same way.

To bake: Cut sliced, crustless bread of any kind into fingers or other shapes such as small triangles, rounds or squares. Arrange in one layer on an ungreased baking tray and place in a preheated slow oven until they are completely dried, crisp and several shades deeper in colour. The time needed will depend on the type and thickness of the bread. Check frequently, turning the pieces over when the upper side is crisp and rearranging them as necessary to colour evenly. Do not allow to become too dark or the flavour will be spoiled. Rusks may curl as they dry; if you want to keep them flat, put a wire rack upside-down on top of them. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

Use, cold or slightly rewarmed, within a week or two; after that, the rusks will gradually get a ‘tired’ flavour.

You can use rusks in most of the ways you would use bread or toast. Serve them buttered or with peanut butter or honey or as snacks for hungry children. Or serve with soup, savoury mince or any other dish with a sauce or gravy; use to scoop up a dip, or as bases for hot or cold canapés. Sprinkle rusks generously with cheese, put 2 or 3 in the bottom of individual soup bowls and ladle hot onion soup over.

Ingredients

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