Cheese and Oregano Rusks

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes around

    12

    , depending on size of cookie cutter

Appears in

Good Food For Bad Days

Good Food For Bad Days

By Jack Monroe

Published 2020

  • About

Rusks are one of the first foods that we give to weaning children; sturdy enough to be gripped in tiny grasping fists, but soft enough to suckle into a comforting nothingness. My taste for them as an adult never quite went away, and in times of despair, sadness or simply trawling the supermarket aisles looking for something simple to nibble on, I slip a box of Farley’s rusks into my shopping basket, furtively burying them under the more respectable grown-up foods like bananas and vegetables. I sit in my kitchen with a cup of hot, sweet milky tea, dipping the edge in and sucking it gently, feeling immediately comforted and nourished and ever so slightly self-conscious. I hide them at the back of my cupboard, behind the sea salt crackers and respectable fare, but they are always there in times of need.

These rusks are based on an old English recipe, slightly less virtuous than their infant counterpart, with the addition of cheese and herbs. I include them here as a luxury version of a childhood classic, but if you’d rather nip to your nearest shop and pick up a box from the baby food aisle, I’m certainly in no position to judge you.

Ingredients

  • 250 g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 30 g hard strong cheese
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs, or thyme or rosemary
  • 120 g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp full-fat milk

Method

First heat your oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6 and lightly grease a cookie sheet or baking tray. You may line it with greaseproof paper should you wish to, but it’s not essential.

Weigh the flour into a mixing bowl, finely grate in your cheese and stir in the salt and herbs. Spoon in the softened butter 1 teaspoon at a time, dotting it throughout the dry ingredients until it is all in the bowl. Rub the butter and salted flour together between your fingers until the flour resembles fine breadcrumbs, just as you would if you were making shortcrust pastry.

Beat together the egg and milk in a small bowl or measuring jug. Pour it into the centre of the mixing bowl and stir well to form a smooth, fairly dry but not crumbly, non-sticky dough. If your dough is tacky to the touch, simply add a tablespoon of flour and work it through, and repeat if required.

Lightly flour your worktop and tip the dough onto it. Roll it out evenly until it is around 2 cm thick, then cut into rounds using a 5–8 cm pastry cutter (they don’t particularly have to be round now I come to think of it, but it ensures even cooking if they are all around the same size).

Carefully transfer each cutout piece of dough onto your baking tray, leaving a little space between them as they may spread and join together.

Bake for 10 minutes until risen and lightly coloured, then remove and allow to cool completely on the tray before attempting to transfer. Once cool, store in an airtight container, where they will keep for up to 4 days – if they last that long.