Rusks are dry, hard biscuits or twice-baked bread that are used for everything from Greek-style bruschetta to teething snacks. It is easy to make rusks from regular bread but because you need to use low oven temperatures, it takes a while—three to five hours depending on the bread you use. The good thing is that you don't have to stir, mix, or even flip it. And all you need are bread or rolls and a baking sheet.
Rusks are an important part of Greek cooking—the most popular use is for Greek lathovrekto (bruschetta) where the rusks are topped with a variety of ingredients. The rusks also often become crumbs to sprinkle in salads. The Greeks utilize different kinds of breads to create various types of rusks—the classic shape of the Cretan barley rusk is similar to a large kaiser roll, and friganies are thin wheat rusks.
Here's How to Make Rusks
- Choose the size rusk or slices you want to make—regular sliced bread, French bread size, baguette size, or kaiser rolls (preferably barley or whole wheat).
- Unless the bread is pre-sliced, cut the bread into slices about 3/4 to 1 1/4 inch thick. Cut rolls in half.
- Slow bake in a 120 F (50 C) oven until dry and crisp, anywhere from 3 hours or more, depending on the thickness of the slices.
- Store in an airtight container for up to three months.
Tips on Making Rusks
- To make rusks for crushing (to use as toasted bread crumbs), or in recipes calling for "friganies" (thin wheat rusks), use sliced white or whole wheat bread.
- Do not remove the crusts before baking for Greek recipes.
Rusks Around the World
Rusks are not just a Greek specialty—they are popular in many different countries across the globe. In France, they are called biscotte and sold in packages in markets; Germany's version is referred to as zweiback, which when translated means baked twice (the name may sound familiar as it is used to label teething biscuits).
In Russia, rusks are called sookhar' and can either be made from leftover stale bread or a bread similar to challah—this version is more like a cookie and served with milk or coffee, while the plainer rusk is added to soups in place of serving bread on the side. The United States' versions of rusks are melba toast and biscotti.