Cake rusk is a favorite tea-time snack in India. These a crunchy, and lightly sweetened. Similar to biscotti these are twice-cooked making them drier and suitable for longer storage than cakes. A quick dunk in hot coffee or tea and these melt in the mouth. Vegetarian Nut Free
Elaichi or Cardamom Rusks are favorites of my dad’s. These are hugely popular as tea-time snacks all over India. Rusk dipped in chai was one of the delights that my kids enjoyed with him :-). When grandpa is not around they go for the sweeter version – cake rusks.
What are Rusks
For those who are not familiar with rusks, these are twice-baked bread or cake, just like biscotti. These are crunchy, dry, and could be flavored or plain. Unlike cake or bread, these have a longer shelf life and travels well too. The downside is that these can’t be enjoyed on their own, though there are exceptions. That said it is just perfect or dipping in a hot cup of milk, coffee, or tea.
Origin of Rusks
In all probability, it all started with an ingenious baker who found himself with way too much unsold bread one day. While preheating the oven he would have thought “Hey why don’t I slice the bread and dehydrate it as well ?”. Dehydrating meant easier storage – nothing goes stale or moldy, and if stored under dry conditions could stay fresh for months!
While rusks made from bread are crunchy and light, cake rusks are a bit more soft and sweet. The sweet crunchiness would have been the happy by-product that made these so popular.
Making Cake Rusks
Here the cake rusk starts its journey as a tweaked version of pound cake. Make these in rectangular or square pans to create slices of even thickness. After cooling slice the cake into rectangular pieces of about around 1/2 inch thickness. Lay the pieces out on a cookie sheet and bake again until it becomes crisp. Flip at least once to dry both sides evenly.
The simple pound cake recipe works great for cake rusks, though I find it to be a bit on the sweet side. You can use your favorite pound cake or sponge cake recipe and turn them into rusks. Try to use a recipe that does not have mosit additives like fruits or jams. These will not dry evenly and lead to shorter shelf life.
Whichever recipe you choose the cake should not be too soft otherwise it will fall apart while slicing and baking for the second time. Slice it into rectangular pieces about 1/2 inch thick and toast on both sides!
The quantity of the batter in the recipe below is perfect for a 9X9 square pan and makes about 1 inch wide rusks.
There is no need to refrigerate or freeze leftovers, just store them in an airtight container and these will stay fresh for a week or longer depending on weather conditions and how dry you make them.
Simple Cake Rusk
- 1 1/4 C All Purpose Flour (150g)
- 10 Tbsp Butter (130g)
- 1/2 C Fine Sugar (110 g)
- 3 Eggs
- 1 Tsp Baking Powder
- 1/4 Tsp Salt
- 1/2 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
- Make sure that all the ingredients are at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Cream butter and sugar together. If the sugar grains are large pulse it in a blender to make them into a fine powder before using. Beat in the eggs one by one until thoroughly mixed in. Scrape the sides to prevent the butter from sticking to the sides. Add the vanilla essence and mix.
- Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together.
- Add the dry ingredients in batches and mix slowly with a spoon using a circular motion till a silky smooth batter is formed. Do not over mix.
- Grease and flour a 9inch X 9inch square cake pan. Transfer the batter into the prepared cake pan. Use the back of the spatula to spread it evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top begins to brown.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).
- Invert into the cake onto a clean cutting board. Cut in half into 2 rectangles.
- Slice each rectangle along the short edge in 1/2″ thick slices.
- Arrange the slices on a cookie sheet with the cut sides down. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Turn and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes or till the desired brownness is reached.
- This rusk is sweet. You can reduce the sugar to 75 gms to make it less sweet, but reducing it more will change the texture drastically.
- Preferably weigh the ingredients, especially flour and sugar.
- When measuring gently stir to loosen the flour in the container and scoop it onto the measuring cup using a spoon. Use a knife to level.
Important: Nutrition Values are estimates. Actuals vary based on ingredients and serving size.