1. In an extra-large mixing bowl, melt the butter in the warm boiled water and then stir in the cold water and sugar.
2. Add just enough water to the yeast to dissolve it.
3. Mix the yeast and the 625 ml flour into the butter mixture and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
4. Stir in the eggs, condensed milk, salt and aniseed.
5. Start adding the 3.25 litres of flour a cup at a time, mixing after every addition, until you have a soft dough. Knead for 15–20 minutes.
6. Cover with cling wrap and place the bowl in a clean plastic bag. Leave in a warm spot for about 4 hours to prove until doubled in size.
7. Spray three 35 x 15 cm loaf tins with non-stick cooking spray.
8. Pinch off golf-ball-sized balls of dough and form them into fingers, 7 cm long.
9. Pack them standing up in rows in the loaf tins. You should get 4 rows of 16 per tin.
10. Cover with cling wrap and leave to prove for about 2 hours until doubled in size. The dough should not rise over the sides of the tins.
11. Preheat the oven to 160 ˚C and bake the rusks for 1 hour.
12. Remove from the oven and turn out the ‘loaves’ onto a wire cooling rack.
13. Make the sugar syrup by dissolving the sugar in the boiling water. Using a pastry brush, paint the tops and sides of the loaves.
14. Eat warm or leave to cool, break into rusks and dry overnight on baking trays in a 50 ˚C oven.
15. Store in airtight containers.
The Classic South African Cookbook, by Melinda Roodt, published by Struik Lifestyle, R350. Photography: Christin Boggs-Peyper © Penguin Random House South Africa (Pty) Ltd 2016