Cheese Rusks

This is an old-fashioned Australian recipe for feeding farmers. That is, it’s a recipe for men who do physically hard work all day and need food to match. So we are not talking delicate. On the other hand, when I was invited to afternoon tea today, ‘you don’t have to bring anything, nobody else is, but if you wanted to make cheese rusks…’

cheese rusks
cheese rusks

The gist of this is dried out scone mixture. It is time-consuming as a consequence. You can make a double mixture – they keep well as long as you are diligent about the slow-drying process.

Rub 75g butter into 225g self-raising flour until crumbly. Add 100g-150g grated cheddar cheese – I use Coon, it’s an excellent cooking cheese – and a little cayenne. Stir an egg into maybe one-third of a cup of milk. Add and mix to the dry ingredients. You want it DRY, but not so dry that you can’t roll it, so add a little flour if necessary. Knead into a ball.

Roll and cut into thick fingers – they need to be thick as you will later be breaking them in halves. Maybe three-quarters of an inch high. Put on tray in a hot oven, about 220C. When they have risen and started to go a little brown on top, take out. This usually takes me about 12 minutes, but for the first time in my life I’m using a good quality oven and 12 minutes was too long, so keep a watchful eye. Turn oven to as low as you like, maybe 100C. Cut open the rusks longways, of course. Put back on a low shelf and wait. And wait. And wait. Until they are really quite dry.

Take out, wait some more until cool before putting in biscuit tin.

Oh, these can be eaten at any time during the process. The parts you break as you are cutting them in half? Eat. The one you poke with your finger when you are later checking how dry they are? Eat.

The quantity you will end up with is a ratio of your original ingredients to your lack of discipline along the way. It can’t be helped.

I couldn’t resist making sweet biscuits as well. I don’t eat sugar, so living alone now, there aren’t many opportunities to bother with baking biscuits. The ones in the oven as I write are pecan and chocolate, universally loved. I’ll give you the recipe tomorrow.

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