I grew up with this baked and dried-out delicacy always being present in our home. As a child, my mother would bake new batches almost every week to keep up with my constant demand for beskuit in the morning. We took them on trips to the coast, Kruger Park, Namibia and even on our first trip to Europe. Whenever I was visiting South Africa, while still living in Taiwan, my mom would become frantic with worry during the final days of my visit that she would not be able to have enough time to bake me some beskuit to take back with me.
Beskuit is the Afrikaans word for rusks. A traditional South African baked item I believe has its roots in the Italian biscotti. Besides the similarities in name and texture, it also needs to be baked twice and you can play around with different kinds of beskuit.
My favorite is still my mother’s tried and trusted recipe I grew up on. I got it from her while I was living abroad to attempt my own version. This, my first time baking it in Bangkok, has possibly been my most successful. Whether it was using plain yogurt instead of buttermilk or whether maybe I just finally got the other ingredients and temperature right I do not know. But I think it came out great.
To make beskuit you need to get:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cups whole weat flour
1 and 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
250ml plain yoghurt
250 grams butter
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a baking dish. Sift the dry ingredients together and put aside. Melt the butter and mix in the yogurt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients well and pour into the baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes. Let it cool on a wire rack and then cut it into squares. Place the squares onto the wire rack and dry in the oven until dried through, about two hours, at 100C. The oven should be open just a little while it is drying out.
Beskuit, in my opinion, is best enjoyed with a cup of fresh coffee for breakfast, or afternoon coffee or any other time actually. I love it.
Suggestions for beskuit:
– use bran instead of wholewheat flour
– my mother uses buttermilk, but I could not find it in stores here so I used yogurt instead- worked like a charm
– margarine also works if for some reason you do not want to use butter
– beskuit is great with sunflower seeds or dried fruit added to the mixture. Yum!