by Belinda Jackson
The history of the ANZAC biscuit is that the wives, mothers, and girlfriends of the fighting men wanted to send some ‘comfort food’ for their boys. Any food they sent had to be carried in the ships of the Merchant Navy. It was a two-month journey to Europe and they needed products that wouldn’t spoil during that long journey. A group of women came up with the answer based on a Scottish recipe using rolled oats.
The key ingredients were rolled oats, sugar, flour, golden syrup and baking soda (to make them light). A key point is that these biscuits don’t include eggs as a binding agent and the treacle or golden syrup was the substitute binding agent. The oldest recipes found from this time, 1915 onwards, didn’t include coconut.
Originally the biscuits were called Soldiers’ Biscuits, but after the landing on Gallipoli, they were renamed ANZAC Biscuits. As the war drew on, many groups like the CWA (Country Women’s Association), church groups, schools and other women’s organizations devoted a great deal of time to the making of ANZAC biscuits. To ensure that the biscuits remained crisp, they were packed in used tins, such as Billy Tea tins.
My favorite ANZAC Biscuit recipe:
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup*
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon bicarb soda (also called baking soda)
Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the dry ingredients together. Melt the butter and add golden syrup and hot water. Remove the butter mixture from heat and add in the teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and stir. Be aware that this will bubble a become foamy so you need to have a good size saucepan. Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to make the mixture moist. Place walnut sized balls of mixture onto a greased tray. Make sure there is space between each ball of ingredients as they spread out during cooking. Cook for about 10-20 minutes until they are golden brown, place on a cooling tray. They come out of the oven soft and gooey but once cooled they will become crisp. This mixture should make between 32 and 40 biscuits depending on size.
* Golden Syrup isn’t a common ingredient in the USA. However Lyle’s Golden Syrup is stocked at several supermarkets and stores in NYC. e.g. Fairway, Myer’s of Keswick, Keyfood’s, Union Market. Lyle’s Golden Syrup is much lighter colored than our Australian version, but it works well and tastes great. Alternately, you can use Treacle or Molasses, although the flavor and color of the final biscuit will be a bit different.
Photo credit: Wikipedia