Buttermilk rusks are always a winner, especially when dunked in tea or coffee!

While South Africans around the world yearn for and enjoy the well known Ouma Rusks, there’s something a bit special about homemade rusks. For those not in the know, rusks are kind of like biscotti, and a much loved South African treat. Thanks to Debra van der Merwe for sharing another super easy recipe!

buttermilk rusks recipe


5 from 1 reviews
  • 1 kg cake flour
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 3 level tbles baking powder (not baking soda)
  • 500 ml buttermilk OR
  • 500 ml full fat milk mixed with 3 tbles vinegar or lemon juice (buttermilk)
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1½ cups sugar (white or light brown)
  • 1 tbles caramel essence or vanilla essence
  • 250gr cold butter, cut into small blocks
  1. Turn oven onto very low heat about 150°F (65 C).
  2. Spray 2 loaf tins with non-stick baking spray or grease with butter. You need 2 cookie sheets for drying out rusks at end, ungreased.
  3. If you are not using buttermilk, add the vinegar or lemon juice to the full cream milk, stir and let it stand for about 5 minutes.
  4. Sift flour, salt & baking powder together.
  5. Rub butter into flour until it looks like bread crumbs. (you can use a food processor on pulse mode for this step).
  6. Transfer breadcrumb mixture to a large bowl.
  7. Beat egg,add buttermilk and essence to egg mixture, add sugar and stir.
  8. Add to dry ingredients and mix in with a knife.
  9. Knead well by hand until dough reaches the elastic stage. If the dough is too sticky on your hands, just sprinkle a little flour in until dough is no longer sticky.
  10. Roll mixture into sausage shapes (about the length of your thumb and a bit thicker) and loosely pack into tins, OR halve dough and shape into 2 loaves in tins then cut to size when cooked, whichever you prefer. (I do the loaves)
  11. Put tins with mixture in oven for ± 45 minutes at 150°F (65 C) to rise.
  12. Remove from oven.
  13. Set oven to 350°F (180 C) when oven reaches this temperature, bake for 40 - 45 minutes.
  14. Set oven to lowest heat again, about 150°F (65 C).
  15. Turn out loaves to cool.
  16. When cool gently break balls apart, or slice loaves into slices about ¾ inch thick then slice these slices into ¾ inch fingers – if possible use an electric knife.
  17. Place in a single layer on cookie sheets with a little space between each rusk, place in oven at 150 F (65 C) to dry for about 8 hours, turn rusks one turn about every 2 hours.
  18. Allow to cool, put into air-tight tins or air-tight plastic bags.
Test dryness, if rusks are not dry enough after 8 hours, turn heat up about 200°F (100 C) and leave for another hour.
I usually double up the mixture and make 4 loaves because of the electricity used in the drying process.
You will need a very large mixing bowl if you double up plus 4 loaf tins, or 2 large mixing bowls and then just do 2 recipes simultaneously.



  1. Good day, Fazila.

    I have had a good browse through your site and you have beautiful and mouthwatering recipes 🙂
    I thought I would write to seek advise regarding something I have been interested for a few months. I lived in SA for 7 years and got really attached to rusks.
    I have made buttermilk’s rusks before for me and my boyfriend and they were really good. Now I see as my next challenge to do a healthier version of rusks. I have done research for ‘healthier’ recipe online but I have not found any. So, I am considering the following substitutions: – replacing butter for coconut or olive oil and – sugar for coconut sugar or fructose. Regarding the flour, I have in mind – substituting (or mixing with equal ratios) cake flour with wholewheat/coconut/oat/quinoa/rice flour. What are your thoughts on this? These flours are known to be heavier than the regular white flour but I am not sure which could work best. I will highly appreciate your advise. I would like to try having a better indication as one batch will require a lot of ingredients so it is worth the while.
    I look forward to your thoughts.
    Have a great day.