Anzac biscuits are as Australian as Football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars. More popular than lamingtons and pumpkin scones and just as popular as Bush Balladeer John Williamson (sorry John, but it’s true!). But do you know the story behind the much loved sweet biscuit of Australia? While true Australians know that Anzac biscuits date right back to World War 1 and were eaten by our troops on the very shores of Gallipoli as well as the fields of Flanders, the biscuit was initially known as ‘Soldier’s Biscuits.’ Read on to learn some more amazing facts about Anzac biscuits.
The Anzac biscuit was originally called a wafer or tile. It became a part of rations given to our Australian troops during World war I. These were made a part of the rations in place of bread, as they had a much longer shelf life. Controversy has always surrounded the origins of Anzac biscuits. Some say they came about thanks to the resourcefulness of the Australian women on the home front as a treat for their beloved ones at war. Scottish folk says that they actually originated from the traditional Scottish Oatmeal Cakes which is quite possible due to the ingredients used. Irrespective of their true origins, they are much loved by the Aussies and deemed the National biscuit of Australia.
The Anzac biscuits were thought to have been created by women who were seeking a biscuit which would be easily transported in care/comfort packs. Much thought was given to the fact that the biscuits must be able to survive the long voyage, and that the ingredients were readily available. They wanted nutritional biscuits which were flavoursome as well as, hence the use of golden syrup and the exclusion of eggs and butter which were traditionally used in the cooking of biscuits. The biscuits were then packed into tins. The use of billy tea tins was popular as this kept the biscuits air tight.
Traditional Anzac biscuits are easily made and original recipes have been handed down through generations from mothers to daughters, mother-in-laws to daughters-in-laws etc. The Anzac biscuit came into being approximately 1915. The biscuits were relatively cheap to make ( this was the time of the Great Depression. ) They were non-perishable and did not need refrigeration. The recipe is quick and easy as well so this was an added bonus.
After the famous landing of the Australians and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzacs) in Gallipoli, the biscuits were no longer called ‘Soldier’s Biscuits.’ They were renamed Anzac Biscuits in honour of the brave soldiers who landed on that fateful day which was 25th of April, on the coast of Turkey. That location is now known as Anzac Cove. There are a host of dawn and memorial services held all around Australia on Anzac day to pay homage to the man who fought. But Anzac day would not be celebrated properly without a plate of delicious Anzac biscuits.
It is almost 100 years since the original conception of Anzac biscuits. Yet they are still as popular as they have ever been and proudly grace the aisle of supermarkets all over Australia. But the author knows beyond a doubt, that the best tasting Anzac biscuits are those that you get straight from your own oven. Make some today and experience the biscuits that gave comfort to our boys at home.
1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
125g butter, chopped
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Preheat your oven to 180°C, less for fan forced ovens. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Stir in rolled oats, coconut and brown sugar. Place butter and golden syrup into a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir this until melted. Remove from heat immediately. Combine bicarbonate of soda and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Stir this into golden syrup mixture (the mixture should become frothy). Add immediately to flour mixture and stir until well combined.
Roll your mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, into small balls. This will be relatively sticky. Place 4 biscuits on each baking tray. Flatten the balls allowing room for biscuits to spread. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until biscuits are golden. Allow biscuits to cool completely on trays.
You can store your Anzac biscuits in an airtight container for up a few days. These are crispy Anzac biscuits. If you prefer them a little chewy, flatten the biscuits a little less. Enjoy your Anzac biscuits!