Cake Rusk

I’m starting to learn to make things at home that I would have never considered in the past.  Desserts and little snacks and treats for example have always been things we have gone out for.  If Hubby and I wanted to treat ourselves to our favorite cookies, we went down to the corner store and picked up a package.  If I wanted a fresh lemon tart, I walked over to the local bakery and brought it home to enjoy after dinner.  I am now finding that if I want a special treat of cookies or a favorite childhood snack food, I’m looking up a recipe rather than driving directions.

Take for example, this recipe for cake rusk which is a tea cookie, a favorite accompaniment to Indian chai.  Hubby and I used to buy boxes of these until I couldn’t resist having four or five of them each time I had a cup of chai. At that point we decided not to continue buying them. Realizing my weakness for no self-control, we banned the crumbly golden cookies from our kitchen and I haven’t thought about them in years.  I’m actually quite proud that I kicked the tea cookie habit.

Then, last week I wanted to make something homemade that was usually only store-bought.  I am starting to crave the freshness of something homemade. Something made with love and care, where you know exactly what ingredients went into it.  “Wouldn’t it be fun to learn how to make cake rusk at home?”  I thought it was innocent enough, I’ll just learn to make it for the blog so others can enjoy it.  I always seem to forget that it takes taste testing and usually three or four batches of testing out the recipe before I land on the version I like best.  Alas, cake rusk is back in my life and even more delicious than before.

Even though most people wouldn’t think of making them at home, they are incredibly easy to make. The dough is quick and forgiving, perfect for a beginning baker.  I searched online for a recipe I could use and saw a few possibilities but I could tell just by reading them that they would be duds.  So I did some research and found out cake rusk is just a twice baked cake cut into pieces.  Kind of a mix between twice baked cake and biscotti. I went through three or four recipe trials: taking out a little baking soda, testing out longer or shorter baking times and adding some cardamom until I finally landed on the version I like best.  With its just out of the oven freshness, this homemade cake rusk is even better than what we got at the store.  These cookies, or “toast” as they are known in India, are a wonderful treat just on their own but their true glory is as the perfect dunking cookie for tea.  They can easily soak up the chai and yet not crumble or become soggy.  Their subtle flavoring doesn’t distract from the tea and the warmth of cardamom makes a great accompaniment.  My biggest reason for going through so many batches of this recipe was to find the perfect combination of great flavor when eaten by itself and a tight enough crumb for soaking up tea and stay crisp.

Try these with your own homemade chai.


Hubby and I haven’t quite disciplined ourselves enough to always give away our test batches. Out of five test batches, we ate our way through the first two.  The third batch had to get thrown out, I experimented with baking soda instead of baking powder and the result was a lesson well learned.  Baking soda should be used in small amounts; too much is not tasty at all.  

With the final two batches coming out a success and then making a few more to share with friends and family to see how they liked them, I’ve learned the cookies need to come straight out of the oven and into plastic bags for Hubby to take to work (I hear his coworkers and their family members are enjoying them) or to be sent to friends.  I leave behind the smallest cookie to taste test with my next cup of tea but that’s all that’s allowed!  Later on in the day I whine and complain and contemplate whipping up another batch but then I lecture myself:  “I had successfully removed these cookies from my life and now I have to take them back out”.  So you have been dutifully warned.  These cookies are addictive.

These cookies keep very well over a long period of time, so you can make a big batch of these and keep them in an air tight container in the cabinet or on the counter  to enjoy over a longer period of time or make them days ahead for a party and they will remain delicious.  However in our household, making a bigger batch doesn’t mean they last longer, it just means more will get eaten in a shorter period of time.

Cake Rusk Recipe

adapted from Ambus

Servings: 16-20 (can be cut larger or smaller)

Time: 1 hour, 10 mins

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

scant 1/4 teaspoon regular table salt

1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, ground

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

 These directions assume you have a stand mixer but this recipe is also easily made by hand

Preheat the oven to 35oF

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and ground cardamom.

Beat the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Tip: if you don’t have any softened butter ready, place the butter on a sheet of plastic wrap and place another sheet on top of the butter, beat the butter with a rolling pin or any hard object to soften the butter. 

Add in the eggs, one at a time, waiting for each egg to be incorporated before adding the next. Add the pure vanilla extract.

Pour in the flour, a little at a time, waiting for it to be incorporated before adding more. 

Grease a cake pan and line with parchment paper.  The size of the cake pan does not matter much as the cake will be cut into pieces.  I happened to have a 9″ pan.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack when done.  Let the cake cool in the pan.  Removing it while hot will make it crumble.  Once the cake has cooled to the touch, about 15 minutes, de-pan it onto a cutting board by flipping the cake upside down.  It should slide out easily.  If you have extra parchment paper hanging over the sides you can use it to pull the cake out.  Peel off the parchment paper, flip it over so the cake is rightside up again.  Cut the cake into thin slices and then down the middle so each piece isn’t too long.

For the second bake, transfer each piece of cake onto the cooling rack trying to make sure they do not touch. Bake again for 20 or 30 minutes depending on how brown you like them. Baking them on a cooling rack allows them to cook on all sides.  If you don’t have a cooling rack, place the pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flip them halfway so they bake on both sides.



Cake Rusk Recipe

adapted from Ambus

Servings: 16-20 (can be cut larger or smaller)

Time: 1 hour, 10 mins

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

scant 1/4 teaspoon regular table salt

1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, ground

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

These directions assume you have a stand mixer but this recipe is also easily made by hand

  • Preheat the oven to 3ooF
  • In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and ground cardamom.
  • Beat the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Tip: if you don’t have any softened butter ready, place the butter on a sheet of plastic wrap and place another sheet on top of the butter, beat the butter with a rolling pin or any hard object to soften the butter.
  • Add in the eggs, one at a time, waiting for each egg to be incorporated before adding the next. Add the pure vanilla extract.
  • Pour in the flour, a little at a time, waiting for it to be incorporated before adding more.
  • Grease a cake pan and line with parchment paper.  The size of the cake pan does not matter much as the cake will be cut into pieces.  I happened to have a 9″ pan.
  • Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack when done.  Let the cake cool in the pan.  Removing it while hot will make it crumble.  Once the cake has cooled to the touch, about 15 minutes, de-pan it onto a cutting board by flipping the cake upside down.  It should slide out easily.  If you have extra parchment paper hanging over the sides you can use it to pull the cake out.  Peel off the parchment paper, flip it over so the cake is rightside up again.  Cut the cake into thin slices and then down the middle so each piece isn’t too long.
  • For the second bake, transfer each piece of cake onto the cooling rack trying to make sure they do not touch. Bake again for 20 or 30 minutes depending on how brown you like them. Baking them on a cooling rack allows them to cook on all sides.  If you don’t have a cooling rack, place the pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flip them halfway so they bake on both sides.

Accompaniments to Cake Rusk

 

Ginger Chai

Authentic Chai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Comments

  1. 1-19-2013

    I just made these (they are cooling on the rack right now!). My mom loves cake rusk so I thought I would make these for her. She just ate one and loves it. They are incredible yummy and will be perfect dunked in a cup of garam chai!

    • 1-19-2013

      HI Reems – How great! I can just imagine your mother plucking one from the cooling rack :)
      Gosh, you’re making me crave some now!

  2. 2-16-2013

    Can’t wait to try this. What temperature should it be baked at? You have 350 with the pictures, and 300 the other version.

    • 2-17-2013

      Hi Barbara – Thanks for finding that typo, the temperature should be 350. I’ve updated the corrections. Thanks!

  3. 4-11-2013

    You might also enjoy this and I often use cardamom in it:

    Poor Man’s Cookies

    This is a depression-era recipe handed down from my Aunt Laura Bilderback,my father’s sister. It’s one of the few things I have from the McPherson part of my heritage. She lives in Mt. Pleasant, IA.

    1 stick of margarine or butter
    1 C sugar
    1 C water
    1 C raisins*
    1/2 tsp. salt

    Cook 10 minutes in saucepan, medium flame, and cool for 10 minutes.

    Stir in:

    2 C flour

    1 tsp. baking soda

    1 tsp. cinnamon

    1/8 tsp. nutmeg

    Poor in greased 9×13 pan and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

    Frost or drizzle with powdered sugar icing or cream cheese frosting. (optional)

    Cut into squares.

    *other fruit options, fresh or dried, include apple, date, pineapple, chopped dried apricots, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries and currants. You can also add
    cardamom to the spice mix–1/2 to 1
    tsp. ground cardamom.

    • 4-12-2013

      If I hadn’t just sworn off sugar for the next month, I’d be baking these this weekend :)
      Thanks for the great recipe! I love food that has a history to it.

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