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Orange-flavoured rusks

Orange-flavoured rusks

These orange-flavoured rusks are an example of contemporary rusk-making. Rusks have been around in the southern part of Africa since 1652 when the Dutch arrived at the Cape of Good Hope. Their ship-rations included dried-out bread that is the direct ancestor of contemporary rusks.

Home-bakers typically bake large batches of rusks and share them with friends or family. Rusks can be stored in airtight containers for a month or two, provided that they are well looked after. It is customary to serve rusks with coffee or tea. It is excellent as an early morning breakfast or mid-afternoon snack.

Orange-Flavoured rusks
Orange-flavoured rusks

Home-baked rusks make excellent gifts and many home-bakers also sell rusks for extra income. This is a custom that dates back to early days of the Dutch settlement at the Cape of Good Hope when burghers were contracted to bake on consignment for ships stopping to take on water and food. These days it is mainly the older generations that still bake rusks. Women of the South African diaspora are baking and selling rusks all over the world including the Netherlands where it originally came from.

These days just about anything goes as far as flavourings are concerned. This orange-flavoured rusk recipe is a good example of one such contemporary innovation. Others include bran, muesli and raisins.

Orange-flavoured Rusks

Recipe by christiekeulderCourse: ConfectionaryCuisine: South African, NamibianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time


Drying time

3.5 hrs

These orange-flavoured rusks contain orange zest and fresh orange juice and are a must with your afternoon coffee or tea.


  • 1.5 kilograms self-raising flour

  • 400 grams sugar

  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 500 grams butter

  • zest of 1 orange

  • 625 millilitres orange juice

  • 2 extra-large eggs

  • extra butter for greasing pans


  • Preheat your oven to 180℃. Grease three medium-sized bread pans with the extra butter. Use two large bread pans if you don’t have three medium ones.
  • Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Rub the orange zest and butter into the flour mixture using your hands. Continue until the mixture represents fine bread crumbs.
  • Add the orange juice and the eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk together. Add this to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix well using first a wooden spoon and then your hands. The dough should be stiff enough to shape into egg-sized balls.
  • Portion and shape the dough into equally-sized dough balls that each one is the size of an egg. Transfer these into the greased bread pan and line them up so that they form a tight fit. There should not be large gaps between the dough balls.
  • Transfer the pans to the preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes or until done. A cake skewer should come out clean when the rusks are done. The rusks should be lightly golden on top.
  • Turn your oven down to its lowest setting, and use something heat resistant to keep the door ajar.
  • Leave the rusks until the pans are cool enough to handle. Remove the rusks from the pan and transfer to a cooling rack. Be careful not to break the rusks as they are quite soft and crumbly. Once the rusks are completely cooled down, separate the balls from each other. Place these in a large oven pan. Transfer this to the oven to dry out leaving the door ajar. Dry for 3 to 4 hours, checking after three hours. Return the rusks to the cooling rack when they are done. Allow them to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container.
Orange-flavoured rusks
Orange-flavoured rusks

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