Penn Rusks. Mrs. A. C. Ault. Recipe
Penn Rusks are a delightful and traditional recipe that has been passed down through generations. This delicious treat has its origins in the Pennsylvania Dutch community, known for their hearty and flavorful dishes. Penn Rusks are crispy, sweet, and perfect for dipping in your morning coffee or enjoying as a midday snack.
The history of this recipe dates back to colonial times when German settlers brought their baking traditions to Pennsylvania. The main inspiration for Penn Rusks comes from traditional German bread and sweet pastries. As the recipe evolved over the years, the inclusion of a large potato in the dough became a key ingredient, adding moisture and a unique texture to the rusks.
Now, let's get down to the recipe itself! Mrs. A. C. Ault's version of Penn Rusks is straightforward and easy to follow. Here's how you can make them:
- 1 large potato
- Bread sponge (same as used for making bread)
- 1 pint of sweet milk
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- Flour (additional, as needed)
- "ELECTRIC LIGHT FLOUR" (for best results)
1. Start the night before by making the bread sponge. Follow your favorite bread recipe or use a store-bought mix. Let the sponge rise overnight for optimal flavor development.
2. In the morning, peel and cook the potato until tender. Mash it well and set it aside to cool.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread sponge, mashed potato, sweet milk, white sugar, and butter. Mix well until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
4. Gradually add flour, a little at a time, to the mixture while kneading. Continue adding flour until the dough is soft and no longer sticky.
5. Allow the dough to rise again until it doubles in size. This usually takes about 1-2 hours. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and place it in a warm, draft-free spot.
6. Once the dough has risen, gently punch it down and knead it again. This step helps to redistribute the yeast and enhance the texture of the rusks.
7. Let the dough rise one more time until it doubles in size. This can take another 1-2 hours.
8. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Prepare your baking pans by greasing them with butter or lining them with parchment paper.
9. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Cut the dough into rectangular pieces, approximately 2x4 inches in size. The shape and size of the rusks can vary depending on your preference.
10. Place the cut-out rusks on the prepared baking pans, leaving some space between each piece to allow for further rising during baking.
11. Let the rusks rise one final time on the baking pans for about 30-45 minutes, or until they have puffed up slightly.
12. Bake the rusks in the preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until they turn golden brown and develop a crispy exterior.
13. Once baked, remove the rusks from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack. They will become crunchier as they cool.
These homemade Penn Rusks are best enjoyed fresh, but they can also be stored in an airtight container for a few days. Serve them with a hot cup of coffee or tea for a delightful snack or light breakfast.
Fun fact: Penn Rusks are sometimes referred to as "schnitz" in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect. The word "schnitz" comes from the German word "schnitze," meaning "slice" or "cut." This term accurately describes the process of cutting the dough into individual pieces before baking.
If you enjoy Penn Rusks, you might also appreciate other traditional Pennsylvania Dutch treats such as Shoofly Pie, whoopie pies, and apple dumplings. These dishes share the same comforting flavors and nostalgic appeal that make Penn Rusks so beloved.
So go ahead, gather your ingredients, and try your hand at making these delectable Penn Rusks. With every bite, you'll be savoring a piece of history and indulging in a timeless recipe that has stood the test of time. Enjoy!