Today, April 25th, 2015, is the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing on the shores of Gallipoli. Every year, ANZAC Day is day of remembrance where Australians and New Zealanders honour the memory of those who have served and died in all military operations. This year is particularly meaningful.
Though it’s long been associated with World War 1, the history of the ANZAC biscuit (cookie) and actually be can be traced back to Scotland’s famous oat cakes but during World War I, mothers, wives and girlfriends would send food care packages to their men serving in the war, concerned for their nutritional welfare. The problem was the ships carrying the packages would sometimes take over two months to arrive, so any food had to be edible after that long without refrigeration. The ANZAC biscuit only contains a few ingredients, none of which spoil quickly (no eggs).
During the war, eggs were scarce, so the binding agent is the golden syrup (or sweet brown rice syrup if you cannot find golden syrup). To make sure the biscuits stayed crisp on the long voyage, they were packed in tins such as airtight Billy Tea tins (source).
(I have to say, my favourite ANZAC biscuits are a bit crunchy but mostly chewy so I wouldn’t have minded if my biscuits arrived not-so-crisp!)
These were dubbed ANZAC biscuits after the landing at Gallipoli and are one of the few products able to be legally marketed in Australia using the word ANZAC which is protected by Federal Legislation
I posted the recipe for ANZAC biscuits five years ago but I wanted to include an updated version this year, notably to mark the centenary but also to include some updated information (with the ingredients in weight instead of volume since this is how I bake now and a substitute for golden syrup in case you can’t find it).
A sweet biscuit (cookie) from in Australia/ New Zealand associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). It's said that 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.
- 160g all-purpose (plain) flour
- 100g large flake rolled oats (not instant)
- 65g desiccated coconut
- 175g granulated sugar
- 50g brown sugar
- 115g unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons golden syrup (or sweet brown rice syrup)
- 1 tablespoon boiling water
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat the oven to 325˚F.
- Line two baking trays with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Sift the flour into a large bowl. Stir in the oats, coconut and sugars.
- Melt the butter and golden syrup in a medium saucepan.
- Mix the boiling water and baking soda in a small cup.
- Add the baking soda mixture to the butter (it will froth up a bit - don't worry!)
- Pour the butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Roll the mixture into balls (I used around 2 tablespoons of mixture). It might feel a little crumbly but it should come together if you squeeze the mixture in your hands.
- Place on baking trays, roughly 5cm apart.
- Press gently with a fork or the back of a flat spatula to flatten slightly (don't press too hard!). Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove trays from the oven and allow the biscuits to sit on the trays for a few minutes, then carefully transfer them to wire cooling racks and allow to cool completely.
Though they may seem simple, ANZAC biscuits can be a little bit temperamental and unpredictable – they turn out very differently each time I make them – sometimes crunchy, sometimes chewy – but always really tasty. I experimented with sweet brown rice syrup (available in most health food stores) in place of golden syrup since I often hear that people have a hard time finding golden syrup and it worked out well.
If you like your biscuits chewy, you might consider taking them off the trays immediately they are out of the oven (careful – they are really hot and quite soft to handle) and placing them on the wire cooling racks.