Teo is eleven months old and everything gets the test: bite it, bang it, throw it. First time I made these I made just a little batch thinking little baby, couple a day…
Two problems with this idea. One is that, although he loves them, most of Teo’s get thrown to the ducks or lost under the couch or used as a drumstick on the stereo speakers. He has ultimate confidence in the infinite supply-line of grandma. Two is that adults keep raiding the rusk jar. I’m not admitting anything, but they do go rather well dipped in guacamole.
Start the night before with feeding your sourdough starter:
To feed the starter, I take mine out of the fridge the night before, and mix
- 1 cup of unbleached bakers flour,
- 1 cup of water, and
- 1 cup of starter.
Put half of it back in the jar in the fridge. I am left with a bit over a cup of fed starter, to put in a bowl covered with a clean cloth on the kitchen bench for the night. By morning it should be frothy and alive looking.
In the morning:
- The fed sourdough starter
- Enough wholemeal plain flour to make a bread dough (about a cup)
- big pinch of salt
Mix to make a soft dough and knead very briefly, just enough to make a smooth ball. It’s hard to give exact instructions to this but it’s actually very easy to recognise a good dough by feel. I add the flour slowly, stirring it in with a spatula, then as soon as I have something dough-like, I scrape it out onto a floured benchtop, sprinkle some flour on top and knead, adding just enough more flour to get rid of the stickiness.
Put a glug of oil in a bowl and swish the dough ball round in it to coat. I like using macadamia oil for this. It has a mild sweet nutty flavour and good monounsaturated fats, and you don’t use a lot of it so it’s not too expensive. Leave the dough sitting, covered with a clean tea towel, for five or six hours to rise. How long will depend on how vigorous your starter is and how warm the day is but after a few hours, the dough will be doubled in size and springy.
Shape and bake
Flour your bench-top, tip the dough out and knead it again, just for a couple of minutes to knock it down.
Oil three or four biscuit trays. Break off walnut sized pieces of dough and roll them between your hands into little logs. They will expand a bit so make them a bit thinner than baby hand sized. Lay them on the trays and cover with the tea towel again and allow to prove for an hour or so.
Put them in a cold oven set to a moderately slow temperature – about 170ºC or 340°F or gas mark 3, or put them down low in an oven you have on for something else. My oven is antique and slow at the best of times, but the idea is to cook them for an hour or so at a low temperature till they are just getting a bit of straw colour but not browned, and crisp through without being crunchy. Slow baking is the key.
If they are dry and crisp all the way through, they should store in a jar for several weeks.
Can’t say we’ve tried it.