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very long time ago so the following information was found at the most excellently named Digger History website – sadly no longer active but you can see some info from the site on Wikipedia too (a “digger” for those of you who don’t know, is the Australian and New Zealand military slang term for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!)
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.
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
- 100 g (1 cup) old fashioned oats
- 150 g (1 cup) plain (all purpose) flour
- 150g (3/4 cup) sugar
- 80 g (3/4 cup) dessicated coconut
- 113g (1 stick, 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons golden syrup or brown rice syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon boiling water
- Preheat oven to 325˚F.
- Combine oats, flour, sugar and coconut.
- Melt butter and syrup.
- Mix baking soda with boiling water and stir into the butter, then stir into the dry ingredients.
- Spoon onto trays and bake for 15 minutes.