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ANZAC biscuits

April 25th is ANZAC Day, commemorating the landing by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli on April 25th, 1915.  Nowadays it is a day of remembrance where we honour the memories of those who have served and died in all military operations.  The spirit of ANZAC is one of courage, mateship and sacrifice, according to the Australian War Memorial website.

The history of the ANZAC biscuit (cookie for you my North American friends) actually predates World War I and can be traced back to Scotland, famous for its oat cakes.  I remember learning about them in school, however that was a very long time ago so the following information was found at the most excellently named Digger History website – sadly no longer active but you can see some info from the site on Wikipedia too (a “digger” for those of you who don’t know, is the Australian and New Zealand military slang term for a soldier).

During World War I, mothers, wives and girlfriends would often send care packages to their men, concerned for their nutritional welfare.  The problem was that the ships carrying the packages would sometimes take in excess of two months to arrive, so any food had to be edible even after that long without refrigeration.  The ANZAC biscuit not only met the nutritional requirements of these women, but also contains only a few ingredients, none of which spoil quickly.  These were dubbed ANZAC biscuits after the landing at Gallipoli.

Image from the Australian War Memorial website.

You’ll notice there are no eggs in these recipe.  During the war, eggs were scarce, so the binding agent is the golden syrup.  To make sure the biscuits stayed crisp on the long voyage, they were packed in tins such as airtight  Billy Tea tins (I happen to like my ANZAC biscuits chewy so I wouldn’t have minded had they arrived not so crisp!)
Image from the National Museum of Australia website

ANZAC biscuits are one of the few things that are able to be legally marketed in Australia using the word ANZAC which is protected by Federal Legislation

Image from the Returned and Services’ Association website.

They are a forgiving biscuit; indeed, I made these when I was extremely distracted and forgot to mix the baking soda with the water before I added it to the melting butter and golden syrup.  I also forgot the flour (!) and added it in after the wet ingredients, but they turned out ok.  They’re temperamental and unpredictable, turning out very differently each time you make them – sometimes crunchier, sometimes chewier  – but always so tasty.

These are for my Poppa and my Uncle Andrew, who both served with the armed forces (Holland and Australia). xoxo

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ANZAC biscuits (cookies)

Ingredients
1 cup oats
1 cup plainflour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup coconut
4 oz butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1/2 tspn baking soda
1 tablespoon boiling water

Method
Combine oats, flour, coconut and sugar.
Melt butter and syrup. Mix soda with boiling water and stir into the butter, then stir into the dry ingredients. spoon onto trays and bake at (320F) 150-160c for 15-20 minutes

Enjoy!

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59 Responses to ANZAC biscuits

  1. Belinda @zomppa April 25, 2010 at 07:47 #

    What a great history and story…and recipe. Those tins are beautiful.

  2. Daydreamer Desserts April 25, 2010 at 07:53 #

    Thanks for sharing this bit of history with us. I had heard of ANZAC biscuits before, but never really knew the history behind them. I must try making some soon.

    Sweet tribute to your Poppa and Uncle. :)

  3. French Cooking for Dummies April 25, 2010 at 08:12 #

    Nice story and recipe! It’s funny you forgot some stuff and did it another way, I do that all the time with recipes I’m supposed to know well… It sometimes ends up tasting even better (ok, sometimes not ;) )
    These cookies look awesome anyway!

  4. Jamie April 25, 2010 at 09:31 #

    This is really fascinating and I love the images you found to illustrate your story. I think it is important to remember things like this as minor as they seem today for it really tells a tale of humans, the men who served and the women who took care of them, even from afar. The cookies actually sound pretty good for hard-travelling treats! Delish with a cuppa!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite April 29, 2010 at 08:58 #

      Isn’t it a great story? And yes, they taste great, not like “hard-travelling” treats!!!

  5. Tracey@Tangled Noodle April 25, 2010 at 09:56 #

    I had heard of ANZAC biscuits before but your post gives some wonderful detail about how they came to be. I love the old tins (I used to gather them throughout the year in anticipation of sending out Christmas cookie care packages). Thank goodness for ‘forgiving’ cookies – ‘distracted’ is my usual state of being recently and it would be a shame to ruin such a treat!

  6. roxan @ kitchen meditation April 25, 2010 at 11:22 #

    What an interesting history on the biscuit, thank you for sharing that background.

  7. Lori Lynn April 25, 2010 at 12:08 #

    That’s a darling post Mardi! Thanks for the history (and translation for us North Americans)!
    LL

  8. Megan Gordon April 25, 2010 at 12:35 #

    Oats and coconut? I’m sold. I love learning about little treats that I’ve never heard of from your site, Mardi! Such fun pictures too to really illustrate the history of the “biscuit” for us. Somehow calling them biscuits instead of cookies makes them seem much more healthy, no? I think I’ll start trying it and see if it makes me feel less guilty when I break them out late at night :) Happy Sunday, Mardi.

  9. Daniel@Cocina Savant April 25, 2010 at 14:54 #

    These look tasty, with an intriguing story to go along with them. Thanks for sharing the story and recipe.

  10. Mr. Neil April 25, 2010 at 16:43 #

    Alas, I only get these wonderful treats once a year…

    • Tami April 26, 2010 at 18:37 #

      Now Mr Neil what stories has Mardi been telling you!! Anzac biscuits aren’t a sacred item to be eaten only once a year, we make them all the time here in Oz because they’re just so simple and easy to make. The only bad thing, they don’t last long enough to worry about an airtight container.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite April 29, 2010 at 08:56 #

      Well YOU could make them too!

  11. penny aka jeroxie April 25, 2010 at 17:13 #

    lovely history lesson and cookies!

  12. Carol (CGtheFoodie) April 25, 2010 at 17:17 #

    A much deeper history than I had ever been told. Thanks! And thank you for the recipe!

  13. Cookin' Canuck April 25, 2010 at 17:19 #

    Wonderful history lesson! Knowing the story behind a certain food always makes it more interesting to eat.

  14. Pam M April 25, 2010 at 19:06 #

    What a great post Mardi. Your biscuits(glad you didn’t call them cookies) look wonderful. they turned out better than mine, but as you know they are never the same. Glad you also leave ingredients out by mistake. Must be in the genes.

  15. mademoiselle délicieuse April 25, 2010 at 20:26 #

    Happy ANZAC Day to you, Mardi =) And good on you for making the biscuits!

  16. Conor @ HoldtheBeef April 25, 2010 at 20:29 #

    I love those old biscuit tins. I need to get myself some. Tupperware (or rather, the cheap knockoff stuff I have) really isn’t the same.

    I just ate my last ANZAC biscuit :(

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite April 29, 2010 at 08:54 #

      My mum used to collect old tins and I am pretty sure we had some ANZAC ones. Don’t know where there are anymore though :-(

  17. Carolyn Jung April 25, 2010 at 21:37 #

    Thanks for the history surrounding this cookie. I seriously had no idea it was born of war-time and helped fuel the troops way back when. Now, that’s a cookie with a story.

  18. Penelope Tsaldari April 25, 2010 at 22:04 #

    It was like I was mind mapping and loving it. What an ingenious presentation, photos and well researched material. I just loved it. Thank you so very much and look forward to more! more! more!
    Wonderful blog,
    Cheers, Penelope

  19. K a b l o o e y April 25, 2010 at 22:14 #

    I love this post. Never even heard the term before, I have to confess, so the intriguing mystery of the title followed by the picture of the golden-brown goodies was terrific 1-2 salvo (hey! military term) to keep me reading.

  20. Daniel@CocinaSavant April 26, 2010 at 09:21 #

    great post! love the history that you shared about the treat, as well as the recipe :)

  21. Dawn@CocinaSavant April 26, 2010 at 09:22 #

    great post! thanks for sharing the little bit of history about the cookie/biscuit. looks great!

  22. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best April 26, 2010 at 11:42 #

    I loved learning about the history of anzac biscuits! It makes me curious how many of our favorite foods came about.

  23. Nicole @ Making Good Choices April 26, 2010 at 19:51 #

    Thanks for giving me a history lesson Mardi, that is my weakest subject so I’m always up for learning something new! I also love how you put the biscuits on a map, great shot :)

  24. Barbara @VinoLuciStyle April 26, 2010 at 20:45 #

    Great story Mardi…and part of it could be copied and used for one of your Macaron posts, i.e. ‘They’re temperamental and unpredictable, turning out very differently each time you make them’ – but I love the history and tradition.

    My father served in the US Army Air Corps during WWII as a fighter pilot and is still alive, so honoring the military in any way reminds me of him, too. I think I’ll make some of these cookies and send him a tin; I’m sure he would enjoy the story as well.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite April 29, 2010 at 08:51 #

      Oh I think your dad would love these Barb! And yes, they do remind me of macarons in that they are SO different each time you make them!

  25. 5 Star Foodie April 26, 2010 at 22:17 #

    Great to learn the history of ANZAC biscuits, and thanks for sharing the recipe too!

  26. Gourmantic April 27, 2010 at 02:57 #

    Lovely tribute post, Mardi. I don’t usually eat them but I attempted to buy some at the local bakery to no avail. They remind me too much of school days!

  27. Fiona Hilliard April 27, 2010 at 10:10 #

    Even the photos look good enough to eat!

  28. Skylar April 27, 2010 at 15:46 #

    Great lesson in food history, I always enjoy reading about that.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Between the Lines with Mardi Michaels | Bromography - June 8, 2011

    [...] reflected us and out blog. I couldn’t have picked two more appropriate recipes – ANZAC biscuits representing my Australian upbringing, and a pasta dish whose recipe I requested from Gourmet after [...]

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