Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Lest we forget.

ANZAC Day holds a special place in the heart of all Australians.  I spent this morning (as did most of the Blackwater community, so it seems) at the local war memorial for a rememberance service.  It is so touching to see that this important aspect of our Australian culture is being preserved: not in a glorification of war but as a celebration of those who have and who continue to serve our nation in the armed forces.  I also hold close the cultural values that ANZAC day represents - mateship, determination and pride.  As such, it would be wholly UN-Australian to bake anything today that wasn't an ANZAC biscuit. 

In addition to a recipe, I also thought it incredibly important to include the history of the ANZAC biscuit.  This is a recipe that stays true to that which was cooked in the kitchens of our great great Grandmothers during WW1.  It is heartwarming to know that the love that these women demonstrated for our soldiers lives on in our kitchens today.

During World War 1, the wives, mothers and girlfriends of the Australian soldiers were concerned for the nutritional value of the food being supplied to their men. Here was a problem. Any food they sent to the fighting men had to be carried in the ships of the Merchant Navy. Most of these were lucky to maintain a speed of ten knots (18.5 kilometers per hour). Most had no refrigerated facilities, so any food sent had to be able to remain edible after periods in excess of two months. A body of women came up with the answer - a biscuit with all the nutritional value possible. The basis was a Scottish recipe using rolled oats. These oats were used extensively in Scotland, especially for a heavy porridge that helped counteract the extremely cold climate.
The ingredients they used were: rolled oats, sugar, plain flour, coconut, butter, golden syrup or treacle, bi-carbonate of soda and boiling water. All these items did not readily spoil. At first the biscuits were called Soldiers’ Biscuits, but after the landing on Gallipoli, they were renamed ANZAC Biscuits.

ANZAC Biscuits
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
125g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup (or treacle)
1 tsbp water
1/2 tsp baking soda

Combine all of your dry ingredients.  Place butter, syrup and water in a saucepan and stir over a medium heat until butter has melted.  Stir in the baking soda before combining wet and dry ingredients.  Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and press firmly to flatten. Bake in a 160 degree oven for 15 minutes. 

This recipe gives you biscuits with a crunchy outer and a soft middle.  If you prefer you ANZAC biscuits really crunchy, flatten them more on the tray before they go in the oven and cook for 20 minutes instead of the stated 15.

F. x


  1. Hello, I'm over here from Charlie's Hotly Spiced. Nice to meet you. I love these cookies; they were first introduced to me by my Mom who saw the recipe on Martha Stewart and we fell in love immediately. I make them every Christmas to put into my cookie gift boxes (I know, it's for Anzac day, but I'm from Canada so it really isn't as bad!). http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/christmas-baking-2011-anzac-biscuits/

  2. What a lovely story! I adore that while they have a completely different meaning to you than I, that these cookies still hold a special place in your heart. Isn't that just what food is all about?! Thank you for sharing your blog post...I am off to have a read this minute. F. x