What is the Anzac biscuit’s history? While traditionally served on April 25th to commemorate the Australians and New Zealanders who have served our country, Anzac biscuits can be enjoyed any time of year. Here, we look at the story behind these delicious sweet treats.
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What are Anzac biscuits?
Anzac biscuits are cookies that are made using rolled oats, sugar, plain flour, coconut, butter, golden syrup, bicarbonate of soda and boiling water. Depending on the recipe used, they may be soft and chewy or crunchy and crisp, with the taste most resembling the sweet topping of apple crumble.
What is the origin of the Anzac biscuit?
The original Anzac biscuit was a savoury version, known as the Anzac tile or wafer, that was first given to the soldiers as rations during World War I.
Due to food shortages at the time, eggs weren’t readily available, so butter, treacle (aka, golden syrup) and baking soda were used as the leavening agent instead. This resulted in a hard biscuit that was very tough to eat, although it could be kept for months at a time without spoiling. According to the Australian War Memorial, the soldiers would get creative in coming up with ways to make the wafers more palatable – be it adding water to grated biscuits to create a porridge or spreading them with jam. Sometimes, they were used for other purposes entirely. E.g. for drawing and painting on or as cards to send to family and friends back home. It wasn’t until the 1920s that a far sweeter recipe – the one we know and love today - first started appearing cookbooks.
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How long do Anzac biscuits last?
At room temperature, Anzac biscuits should keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
What’s the best recipe for Anzac biscuits?
The term ‘Anzac’ is protected under Australian and New Zealand federal law, and as such, can only be used with permission from the government. This means that any products sold as ‘Anzac biscuits’ must be faithful to the traditional recipe. Below is one of our faves.
Classic Anzac Biscuits
1 cup plain flour
2 cups rolled oats
¾ cup white sugar
125 g butter, chopped
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp hot water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Preheat oven to 150°C. Line 4 oven trays with baking paper.
- Put flour in a large bowl and stir in oats and sugar.
- Put butter, syrup and hot water in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Stir occasionally until butter has melted.
- Stir bicarbonate of soda into syrup mixture and remove from heat.
- Add warm syrup mixture to oat mixture.
- Stir until well combined.
- Shape tablespoons of the mixture into 28 balls.
- Arrange balls on prepared trays about 8cm apart. Press each ball lightly with your fingers to flatten slightly.
- Bake, in batches, for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on trays. Serve.
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