Standard procedure for rusks
My procedure for making the rusks is
Mix the ingredients. I’m using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. With a new recipe or modified existing one the dough needs to be felt to make sure that you’re using the correct amount of water. Oftentimes the visual clues are insufficient. You don’t want a dough that’s too stiff, nor should it be too wet. With non-wheat flours it can be tricky; for example, corn flour or sorghum flour never hold together (although, as I remember, masa harina is better about this). On the other hand, you can let the dough be a bit too wet because the bran will continue to soak up the fluids during the rest period.
Err on the side of being too wet; it’ll get dried eventually in the food dehydrator. If it’s not wet enough the loaf will be crumbly and hard to slice.
With a high percentage of bran it will never come together so in that case you can’t rely on the visual clues at all. (I’m always surprised that this even works because the dough before baking is so crumbly and lacks cohesion.)
Mix it well; since there’s so little flour you want to be sure the bran is well coated with the flour.
- Put the dough in a lightly greased (I use Country Crock margarine) covered container and let it rest for at least 2 hours. I use a cottage cheese container. Part of the reason for this is to let the bran fully absorb the liquids. Another reason is that there’s an autolyse process which may be occurring.
- Put the dough in a mini loaf pan that’s been greased and floured.
- Seal the top of the loaf pan with aluminum foil. In case the bread rises and presses against the foil it would be a good idea to butter the foil (which I always forget to do). Since we’re going to dry the sliced bread in the food dehydrator we don’t need to bake the bread so that it has a proper bread texture; it’s helpful if it’s a bit too moist after baking so that it will slice more easily.
- Bake it for 1 hour in a 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven. Ideally I should test for doneness with a digital thermometer; I think 210 is the correct temperature. Since I’ve started covering the loaf with aluminum foil I’ve added 10 minutes to the baking time.
- Turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack and let it cool for an hour or so.
- Wrap it in a paper towel then put it in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge for several hours, typically overnight. Without the paper towel moisture collects on the inside of the plastic bag. Thoroughly chilling the bread helps with the slicing. This also allows the moisture in the bread to equalize and travel around so that it’s not just moist near the center.
- Slice it; I use an electric deli meat slicer, currently set at 4, which I think is 4 mm. Depending on how the crackers turn out you can slice them thinner or thicker; if they’re crumbly then next time slice them more thickly; if they’re tough, slice more thinly.
- Put the slices in the food dehydrator set at 105 degrees Fahrenheit and set the timer for 10 hours. I’m using a lower temperature hoping that it will lessen the loss of flavors or reduce any change in flavor.