So what does it mean to me? As a primary school kid, each ANZAC day would see us assembled in the school hall to hear old returned soldiers tell us about their experiences. We would read the story of Simpson and his Donkey and bake ANZAC biscuits. Every year there would be an ANZAC Day parade which I don’t remember going to, but my mum tells of going with her parents and her dad’s mates yelling out at him to join in as they marched by. Yes, one of my grandfathers went to war in World War II and one of his older brothers was at Lone Pine in Gallipoli. But as a child I only have a hazy memory of my mum looking for the name of her uncle who died in World War II when we visited the War Memorial in Canberra.
|Dawn service in Torquay 2013
|Golden syrup and butter (actually this is vegan margarine - seems I don't follow my advice in the recipe to use real butter!)
With the renewed interest, is a resurrection of the ANZAC biscuit. This is a biscuit I loved making as a child because I loved smelling the butter melting with the golden syrup. My mum made them quite a lot and I mostly had her home-cooked versions rather than what we called ‘bought’ biscuits. Home made biscuits can be different each time, sometimes chewy, sometimes crisp. Now it is quite common to see huge chunky versions in cafes. This year I have noticed that there are sprawling displays of packets of the bikkies in the supermarket.
|The frothing as the butter/golden syrup meets the dry ingredients
It seems that during World War I they were not referred to as ANZAC biscuits, and possibly didn’t even include all the ingredients we know and love today. Researchers say that they were originally Soldiers Biscuits, then ANZAC Crispies and then finally in the late 1920s ANZAC Biscuits.
|ANZAC biscuits made in 2013
When my mum rang this week she said she had made a great batch of ANZAC biscuits from her fail-proof cookbook, Cookery the Australian Way (which was the book we used at high school). So I scribbled it down dutifully on the newspaper where I was doing my samurai sudoku. I was glad to get the recipe from my mum, because I had seen so many versions of the recipe that I was quite confused about which one was the one I knew and loved.
|ANZAC biscuits made in 2008
When I was young I don’t think I really appreciated my mum regularly baking us cakes and biscuits. How ironic because now I would much prefer homemade ANZACs to any that I could buy in a shop! My mum was right about this being a good recipe - they were flat, soft and buttery. I have checked a few other recipes and it seems this one has a bit less flour and oats than usual which is probably why they spread so readily. Oh, and apparently the recipe is derived from a Scottish recipe. So it is no surprise that E loved them too.
I am sending this post to Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness who is holding an Retro Recipe Challenge event called Your Mother Should Know. It asks us to make a recipe that was popular before our mother was born. I thought it was a hard ask until I realised that the biscuits I was planning came into that category.
Update: I have uploaded some photos from 2013 to replace all by one of the blurry old photos from 2008. If you want a fancy version, you could also try ANZAC biscuits with cranberries and chocolate but don't tell the traditionalists.
(from Cookery the Australian Way)
Makes 16 biscuits (or more)
1 cup rolled oats*
1 cup plain flour*
1 cup dessicated coconut*
3/4 cup sugar*
125g butter, chopped**
2 tbsp golden syrup**
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp boiling water
Combine first four ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a small saucepan. When melted take off the heat. Mix the hot water and bicarb in a separate bowl and add to the golden syrup mixture. Mix and watch it froth up.
Once it is frothing, pour the golden syrup mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Drop teaspoonfuls onto a greased or lined baking tray. Leave plenty of room around them as they will spread quite a lot. I didn’t leave enough room for mine (maybe they were too big).
Bake in 160 C oven for about 10 minutes. My mum gave me the wise advice that your nose will tell you when it is cooked. Leave to cool on tray for 5-10 minutes and then use an eggflip or spatula to transfer to wire rack to cool.
* I have updated this recipe. It was previously 3/4 cup each of oats, flour and coconut and 1/2 cup sugar. The biscuits spread a lot (as you can see in the bottom photo) but I have followed my mum's lead and now make the biscuits to be firmer little discs.
** I know that in America it is hard to get golden syrup - it is possible to substitute honey or corn syrup or treacle. Vegans can substitute margarine for butter. But I believe the characteristic taste of these biscuits really comes from the combination of butter and golden syrup so I encourage using them if possible.
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