What's Cooking: Beschuit (Dutch Rusks)


A beschuit is a typical Dutch rusk that is eaten at breakfast or lunch and especially at the birth of a baby. The idea of a preservable replacement for bread already existed in Roman times. Rome had a vast army that had to be fed. Bread was not practical on long marches since it would go stale within a few days. The reason for this is that bread contains too much moist making it a perfect breading soil for fungae. But if you bake the bread twice you substract virtually all moist from it. The hard, dry cookies that result from this baking proces can be kept fresh for weeks. The romans called the cookie biscotum, meaning baked twice, after the baking process. Through the French word bis cuit it became the English word biscuit and the Dutch word beschuit. Beschuit became very popular in the Netherlands during the 17th century and became the basic food for every long overseas sailing trip. This scheepsbeschuit was very different from the beschuit you can buy in shops today. The biscuits were very hard and could only be eaten when soaked in liquid first like tea or milk.

The modern version of beschuit originated in the 18th century when the use of yeast became popular among bakers to make the dough fluffier. To give more taste to the beschuit sugar and eggs were added to the recipe. Due to the fairly expensive ingredients like sugar and eggs, at first it was luxury bread for the rich. Nowadays beschuiten can be found on virtually every Dutch breakfast and it is often marked as one of the most missed foods by Dutch abroad.

The original recipe for beschuit requires ingredients that are impossible to get abroad, like beschuitgelei (this is even hard to come by in the Netherlands!). Therefore we provide you with a substitute recipe often used by Dutch expatriats to get a beschuit that comes very close to the original.

If you would like to top your home made beschuit with original Dutch muisjes or you would like to taste beschuit without the trouble of baking them have a look at www.hollandforyou.com. Here you can get all kinds of Dutch foods and they will send it all over the world.

Ingredients (makes 12)

0,5 cup (120 ml) milk
2 cups (265gr) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons (8 gr) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2,5 tablespoons (30 gr) white caster sugar
1,5 to 2 tablespoons (25) gr soft butter
1 egg
6 round baking forms (i.e. muffin forms)

Instructions

  1. Stir the butter and sugar until it becomes a smooth mixture.
  2. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt onto the mixture and mix using dough hooks.
  3. In a separate bowl mix the egg and milk together.
  4. Add the egg and milk to the dough and keep mixing until you get a smooth dough. If the dough becomes very stiff, add more milk until it is smooth.
  5. Divide the dough into six balls and put each of them in a well-fatted baking form.
  6. Bake them for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 175 C.
  7. Let the resulting buns cool down and remove them from their form. Let them cool down completely.
  8. Cut every cooled bun in half horizontally.
  9. Bake the half buns again at 175 C until light brown and crisp (aprox. 15 minutes)
  10. Turn off the oven and let the beschuiten dry further and cool down inside the oven with a slightly opened door.
  11. Keep the beschuit in an airtight box (tupperware works great) to keep them fresh and crisp.

Enjoy!