In a tea-loving nation like India, we love to have a snack with our tea, and
Rusk or Cake Rusk is one of the famous and easily available snacks. Whether you are living in a city or village or you are just travelling, you will find Rusk in every tea stall across the country. Rusk is a hard dry biscuit, prepared by double baking bread.
Apart from India, Cake Rusk has made its way into the hearts of tea-loving people across UK, Africa, Iran and more.
Where was it originated?
It is said that the Rusk we eat today could have originated from seventh century Persia since they were one of the primary known regions to develop as well as utilize it. There are also some sources that indicate that Rusk was invented in ancient Greece in order to preserve the bread for a longer time.
Baking the bread twice was instrumental in getting rid of much of the moisture present in the bread. This aided in the preservation and helped prolong the use of bread to weeks instead of days.
This way of making bread was also time-saving as they wouldn’t have to prepare bread every day due to the absence of any modern machinery available in that era.
As per many sources, the Rusk as we know today was created by ‘Paxamos’, a Byzantine dough puncher. This sheds some light on why it came to be called ‘Paximadi’ in Greece for quite a while.
Due to a longer shelf life, Rusk was a popular means of sustenance for soldiers, and for the travellers who used to go for long journeys across the sea.
Modern Rusk has changed a lot, the more refined Cake Rusk we are eating today is a sliced cake, re-baked, crisped and dried, and it dates to the mid-18th century. These yummy and delightful cakes could be enjoyed with a cup of tea or milk. These were re-introduced to the sub-continent from England, where they were popularly served as shipboard fare; dried, tinned or stored for long periods of time.
Why it is popular in India?
Since Rusk is devoid of much moisture, it has found great acceptance among the masses in India. It can successfully withstand the hot and humid climate of the country and does not need to be refrigerated. Everyone has their own reasons for preferring this crunchy and filling snack, from affordability to availability. It has become an indispensable part of our daily routines.
The other reason for Cake Rusk for being popular in India is because it’s manufactured with ingredients such as sooji (semolina) or wheat, both grown in abundance in India. It’s a snack everyone and anyone can afford, that’s why you can see it in almost every tea stall in north India and it has become a staple snack.