I baked 11 dozen sweet rolls for an Easter fundraiser at church to raise money to send our bell choir to New York in November. The rolls were either cinnamon, raspberry, or blueberry filled, and were lavishly iced. I had 3 dozen left at the end of the day, and brought them home and made them into rusks. That involved cutting them in half, brushing them with melted butter, and baking them at 275 until they were crispy/chewy. They store really well.
I brought a bag of rusks to work on Tuesday. My coworkers thought they were delicious, but only one had ever eaten anything like them before and knew what rusks were.
This puzzled me greatly, since I assumed that everyone would know rusks. I grew up with Zwieback and Dutch rusks. Dutch rusks came in round packages with windmills on the paper covers, and my grandparents would pour broth on them to soften them up. My coworkers are of German Russian and Czech heritage, and many of them grew up on farms, and I thought they would be familiar with a fine way to extend to life of stale bread. The only one who knew rusks was a coworker of Danish heritage. She said her grandmother used to butter stale bread and sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar and bake it. She didn’t know they were called rusks.
You would have thought I had brought in the most exotic pastry imaginable. I looked up rusks on the internet, and found that there are examples of twice-baked bread from the Philippines to Greece. I think that it was used extensively to extend the shelf life of bread on sea voyages. There are loads of rusk recipes in the Nordic Baking Book my son and dil gave me for Christmas. Perhaps rusks are more common the closer you live to the Baltic or North Seas. In any event, they demand more rusks at work.
What family or ethnic foods do you have a hard time explaining to other people?