A Sedalia Christmas Treat From 1877: Dried Rusk
It just sounds great, doesn't it?
The thing is, I've never heard of rusk period, much less dried rusk. To The Internet!
Okay, I'm back. Apparently rusk is a light, dry biscuit or piece of twice-baked bread, especially one prepared for use as baby food. So, good? Good.
So I guess we're going to make our own rusk, and it's gonna be dried, dagnabit. Well, I might wanna walk that back a second. I was thinking of different things to make for our Christmas dinner that's coming up. My mind wandered to different things I could make, and I thought, "What did Mom used to make?" "What did Grandma used to make?"... and so on. Then the rabbit hole that is my mind made it all the way to my old friend, The Sedalia Bazoo. What did THEY make for Christmas back in the old days?
I went online and found the edition from Christmas Day, 1877. And while I found a lot of good stuff - like cures for incipient consumption, external pile remedy, and a tip for keeping the feet warm (two different kinds of socks and "rub the feet and ankles briskly with the hand"), I was drawn to the rusk.
It beckoned me. Ruskily.
Anyway, according to the Bazoo, here's how you make dried rusk.
One pint of warm milk, two eggs, one half teacup full of butter, half cupful yeast, one teaspoonful of salt. Set a sponge with these ingredients, leaving out the eggs, and stirring in flour til you have a thick batter. Early the next morning add the well beaten egg and flour enough to enable you to roll out the dough. Let this rise in the bread bowl for two hours, roll into a sheet nearly an inch thick, cut in round cakes, and arrange in your baking pan two deep, laying one upon the other carefully, let these stand for another half an hour, and bake, divide the twins, thus leaving one side of each cake soft, and piling them loosely in a pan. Set them in the oven when the fire is declining for the night and leave them in until morning. Put them in a clean muslin bag and hang them up in the kitchen, they will be fit to eat on the third day.
HOLY RUN ON SENTENCES, BATMAN. The thing is, I made a little editorial decision there and added some periods, but the whole set of instructions was just one long sentence. I wonder if it was just a different style, or what? This recipe seems extremely complicated for some snacks. I guess I'm spoiled by modern technology. I can't picture my fire declining for the night. I also don't think I own anything made of muslin.
Do you think you could make this today? Would you try it? Do you have any old recipes from older generations that you still make?