January, when I know that down South the heat comes from a different source, making my own heat in the Bosch. Five o’clock and the candles are being lit, but it’s cosy and time to nestle, to organise, to put on the Steve Tyrell. Rather loving my new little home, and they always say, when you decide to bake, that’s when you know you are settled.
Initiation rusk baking time. Never to be rushed. Not quite Ouma’s recipe but the one I have used since the kiddies were tweenie, boarding school rusks, after clubbing rusks. There are a few recipes our family associates with Mama being Mama, and this is one of them. With my own special twist – those few ingredients you don’t share with anyone (why would you give away your gem). Let it just be said that I am a woman to swoon for cinnamon and vanilla.
While Steve tells my heart it’s ok, I lavish in the mixing of egg, buttermilk and vanilla. Carefully folding into the melted butter, and then flour, the cloud of white and spices are sensual. One must have a light touch for this one, a gentle caressing of batter before baking. Carefully into the chosen pans, specially made by a farmer for his wife when he found the simpleness in doing so, dankie Mr. Boer, they are ready for the oven. Even my timer her has own history, carefully carried across the years and oceans, a little battered now, but she will time the rising of the batter – ah the smells from the oven are delectable.
‘I’ll take your hat … I really can’t stay … baby hold out, it’s cold outside.’
Tring. Tring, Tring. Steaming and soft, the rusks are at their first stage of eating. We call it ‘moss bolletjie tyd’, when they taste like bread, hot, hot. This is the stealing time, the slathering of butter time to sneak a taste. The rest will be returned to the oven at a very low temperature overnight until crisp and biscuit like in the morning. Perfect for dunking in Tea, coffee or a quick breakfast, packed with seeds, bran and totally nutritious. Maybe one more ‘moss bolletjie’, over coffee.’
‘That old feeling … is still in my heart.’