The timeless & humble Anzac Biscuit
Anzac Biscuits are god damn delicious. Not only do they come about once a year to pinch us in the butt and remind us how yum they are, they have a rich and cultural background with deep roots in Australian and New Zealand history. I’m a sucker for romantic connotations and the idea of wives, girlfriends and sisters baking up a storm at home to send to their beloved ones overseas on the warfront hits me right in the heart strings (while, hitting up my taste buds pretty hard too). It was, as I found out, a little different to that.
As common knowledge, the Anzacs were put through an extremely arduous campaign in Gallipoli. They saw extreme unsanitary conditions, disease, daily deaths and a lack of food and water supply. The Anzacs lived in trenches surviving off sparse food rations of bully beef(canned meat), watery jam, and Anzac tiles.
Living in trenches with the sea on their backs and the Turkish inches from their noses, these men did not receive warm packages from home as the glorified myth of the biscuit suggests but survived off pure rations and mateship.
The Anzac tile was the original Anzac biscuit. It was a very hard bread substitute issued by the Army that the soldiers would grind up to make into porridge. It wasn’t very nice to say the least but had a long shelf life and could survive long hauls in ships and transportation. It was impenetrably hard and a constant in the Anzacs day in war.
So where did the sweet tasting Anzac biscuit we know today come from?
The good tasting sweet Anzac biscuit we know today wasn’t being sent to the front lines, as commonly told, but were eaten at public events in the homeland where people were raising money for the war effort.
These were named ‘soldiers biscuits’ at the time of the war but now are referred to an the Anzac biscuit, first used in St Andrews Cookery Book in 1921.
The Anzac biscuit is a sweet chewy biscuit made from oats, flour, sugar, butter, desiccated coconut, golden or maple syrup and baking soda. (Note: there are no eggs in the recipe as many poultry farmers had joined the war effort and eggs were scarce in WW1.)
The recipe, swaying very little from the original baked in the homeland in the war, is eaten by many Australians, around April 25th and all year round.
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
- 125 g butter
- 2 tbs golden syrup
- 1 tbs water
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Preheat oven to 160°C
- Mix flour, rolled oars, brown sugar and coconut in a large bowl
- Combine butter and golden syrup in a saucepan over low heat until melted
- Add bicarbonate soda and water to liquid mix
- Add liquid mix into dry ingredients and mix well
- Ball mix into walnut sized pieces and place on a flat tray
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown