Rusks are small flat, circles of dry, toasted bread made in the Netherlands. They are more like a biscuit than a bread, as they are twice-baked.
They are very crispy and fragile, with a texture like extra-dry toast.
Rusks are made from flour, baking powder, butter, egg, salt and either milk or water. The ingredients are mixed to make a smooth dough, which is then rolled out about 1 inch (2 1/2 cm) thick, and cut out into rounds anywhere from 2 1/2 to 4 inches (4 inch (6 to 10 cm) wide. The rounds are baked for a few minutes, then removed from the oven, cut in half, and returned to oven cut side up at a lower temperature. They are then baked further until crisp and golden-brown.
They are sold in paper cylinders. They are easily crushed — so when your groceries are being packed, make sure they end up on top.
Rusks can be:
- eaten with jam to accompany tea;
- eaten with cheese, smoked salmon, cold cuts on top;
- used as a base for a savoury, saucy dish, as you would vol-au-vents;
- used at the bottom of a soup bowl before serving the soup — they will swell up and soften as they absorb the broth;
- used in an improvised version of Eggs Benedict replacing the English Muffins.
The Netherlands have been large exporters of Rusks. One of the main Dutch producers is Royal Haust Factories, established 1905, Dutch Royal Warrant received in 1924.
Children’s Rusks are different.
Literature & Lore
“Just imported from Rotterdam, a large quantity of excellent DUTCH BUTTER of a fine straw colour, the produce of the most esteemed Dairies in Holland, and of so exquisite a flavour as cannot fail to gratify the most delicate taste. The butter being put up in small packages (from 12 lb. to 28 lb. and upwards) renders it very convenient for the use of small families. By the same ship, a quantity of DUTCH RUSKS, sold in casks, and by the pound.” — Advertisement placed by “The Italian Warehouse in The Edinburgh Advertiser. Edinburgh, Scotland. Friday, 26 December 1823. Page 1.