Whether you're Team Chewy or Team Crispy, there's no denying we love ourselves an Anzac biscuit. There's something wonderful about dipping one of those sweet muesli bikkies into a steaming cup of tea and waiting as it begins to soften with buttery, golden-syrup deliciousness. But do you know the origin story of these tea-time treasures?
The popular narrative goes that wives and girlfriends baked Anzac biscuits to send to their men in Gallipoli – the use of golden syrup as a binding agent in place of eggs (which were scarce at the time) making them both high-energy and long-lasting. But it seems that this tale may be more fiction than fact…
While there's some evidence that rolled oat biscuits were sent to soldiers on the Western Front, there's little to support the story that they reached the Anzacs in Turkey. However, troops were given army biscuits (also known as 'Anzac wafers' or 'Anzac tiles') as a substitute for bread. Made from sugar, flour, milk powder, water and salt, they had a hard texture, with some soldiers preferring to crush them up to turn them into a kind of porridge.
The exact origins of the Anzac biscuit that we have come to know and love today is still a bit of a mystery. Culinary historian Allison Reynolds has traced similar oat-based biscuit recipes back to the 1800s. During fundraising efforts for WWI, these biscuits were sometimes called 'soldier biscuits' or 'red cross biscuits', likely a clever marketing pitch to sell more bikkies for the cause. It wasn't until the early-1920s that the name 'Anzac biscuit' started to appear alongside the recipe as we know it today – though and the addition of desiccated coconut wasn't seen until later in the decade.
Regardless of exactly how and when the Anzac biscuit came to be, there's one thing we can all agree on: you can't beat the smell of the classic Anzac biscuit straight from the oven…
Classic Anzac biscuits
Makes: 28 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.
For more classic Anzac biscuit action (and some twists on the traditional recipe) check out the Foodiful Anzac biscuit collection.