When Karen, Marie and I divvied up the first chapter of the Modern Baker Challenge recipes, I volunteered for the final recipe, Sweet Rusks for Dunking. I don’t think they minded, and I can’t say I was that excited about it either; but I raised my hand out of a sense of practicality–rusks are often suggested as teething biscuits, something we’ll be in need of in a few months’ time around here. I never got around to making these for little E but maybe I can get in the swing of making them for little H. Poor guy gets enough handmedowns, I should make up for it after all!
I was imagining these would be something along the lines of the packaged rusks that you can find (perhaps more commonly in Europe), which look much like someone lopped off the ends of a baguette and then baked it until rock hard.
I ended up making a few modifications. First, because I didn’t have any buttermilk I figured it would be a good chance to use up the powdered buttermilk that is living in the back of my flour pantry. (It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I’ve never really wanted to use it in pancakes or much of anything, unsurprisingly. Also, it’s easy enough to make faux buttermilk in a pinch with lemon juice or whatnot). I also made the dough one day and baked it off the second. I’ve seen plenty of recipes that use double-acting baking powder and which can be refrigerated overnight, so why not here? The real reason I did this is that the entire baking process takes so long, and I figured the most I could do was get them formed in one day. It’s not that it takes so long to shape them, it’s more I only have so many breaks in a day to devote to these pursuits.
Baking takes so long as the rusks are baked twice to ensure it is rock hard. (if you’ve ever made biscotti, this will all sound familiar). Nevertheless, despite all that oven time, and even though I kept mine in longer than specified, my finished rusks were still a bit soft!
Nick Malgieri says that these are not a cookie, and he is right; they really are for dunking in coffee or tea. The flavor is very mild, almost bland, probably as they are meant to complement and not overwhelm these assertively flavored drinks.. Given their purpose, however, I can’t help but wonder about the shape. Trying to dip a little sphere into a hot liquid doesn’t sound like a leisurely way to enjoy my steaming hot drink; I’ll take the classic rusk or longer biscotti shape. Perhaps I misread something in the instructions? That happens to me even in my least sleep deprived moments!