Our friend Arathi likes to bake, even more than I do, which I hadn’t thought possible. And anyone who’s lucky enough to work with her husband (like me) benefits from when she bakes too many cookies and he brings a batch to share. After I tried her rusks, I had to get her recipe. Like biscotti, they are twice-baked dry cookies/biscuits, not too sweet, and perfect for enjoying with your morning coffee or dipping into tea. We also found that they go nicely with a glass of eggnog!
Greg’s Favorite Rusks
From The Farmhouse Cookbook, by Susan Herrmann Loomis
Makes about 80 rusks
2 cups whole almonds
2 cups sugar
5½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350F. Place almonds in a baking pan large enough to hold them in a single layer, and toast, stirring once, until they give off a toasted aroma, 10 to 15 minutes.
Raise the oven temperature to 375F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine the almonds and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a food processor, and grind to a fine powder.
Sift flour, salt, and baking soda together onto a piece of waxed paper.
Cream butter and remaining sugar in a large bowl until pale yellow and light. Add the sour cream and the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the flour mixture and the almonds until just incorporated.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and pat it out to form a 13 x 4-inch rectangle that is ¾ inch thick. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, so you have two pieces of dough measuring 13 x 2 inches, and transfer them to the prepared baking sheets. Bake in the center of the oven until golden, puffed, and firm, about 35 minutes. Slide the parchment paper onto wire racks, and cool the strips until they are lukewarm, about 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 300F.
Slice the strips crosswise into ½ inch thick slices, and lay them on their side on the parchment. Return the paper to the baking sheets, and bake slices until they are golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Turn and bake until golden on the other side, another 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the rusks to wire racks to cool.