All Cute-as-a-button could talk about in the office yesterday was Anzac biscuits – sweet, chewy Anzac biscuits still warm from the oven… memories of when his mum used to make them.
After dieting for the past month (him, not me) this was the treat he was craving. Lucky for him, it’s ANZAC Day tomorrow and it would be un-Australian of me not to make them.
Anzac biscuits have always been associated with Australian and New Zealand soldiers in World War I. Legend says that the wives, mothers and girlfriends left at home were concerned that their fighting men weren’t getting food of any nutritional value, so they cooked up a recipe for treats that they would both enjoy and nutritionally benefit from.
Any food that was sent to the fighting men had to be transported in Navy ships and needed to remain edible after long periods (over 2 months) at sea. A group of women came up with the answer – a biscuit with all the nutritional values possible, based on a Scottish recipe using rolled oats, coconut, flour and sugar. To ensure that the biscuits remained crisp, they were packed in old tins like Billy Tea tins.
Anzac biscuits didn’t use eggs to bind the ingredients together because many of the poultry farmers joining the services, meant eggs were scarce. It’s delicious golden syrup or treacle that keeps these biscuits together.
At first the biscuits were called Soldiers’ biscuits, but after the landing on Gallipoli, they were renamed Anzac biscuits.
The term ANZAC is protected under Australian law but there is a general exemption granted for its use with ‘Anzac biscuits’, as long as these biscuits remain basically true to the original recipe and are referred to as Anzac biscuits and never as cookies.
So here is a recipe for traditional Anzac biscuits. I like mine a little chewy in the middle but you can cook them for longer if you prefer them crunchy. Cute-as-a-button has agreed to break his diet for the occasion and enjoy one with a cup of tea. Put the kettle on…
Makes: 24; Prep time 10 minutes; Cook time: 10 minutes
1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 Tbsp water
– Pre-heat the oven to 160°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Stir in the oats, coconut and brown sugar.
– Put the butter, golden syrup and water in a small saucepan. Stir over a medium heat until melted. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda.
– Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.
– Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Place on the trays, about 5cm apart.
– Press with a fork to flatten slightly. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
– Set aside on the trays for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack so it cools completely.
I visited Gallipoli in 2009. Bestie and I were travelling around Turkey for 2 weeks and figured you can’t go to Turkey and not visit Gallipoli. I admit I didn’t really have any feelings about going there.
Spending time at the museum, walking along the beaches, by the trenches and reading headstone inscriptions… I was so emotionally overwhelmed – not because I have any ancestry connections to it – it was the impossible landscape, the harsh elements, the enormous loss, the mistakes, the wasted youth, complete futility.
Standing between trenches that were only 8 metres apart in some areas and hearing how the Turkish and Australian soldiers would swap cigarettes and food across enemy lines… how a Turkish soldier had raised a truce flag in order to rescue a wounded Australian lieutenant and carry him to the Australian trenches to be treated. For someone who didn’t anticipate the affect this trip would have on me, I get goosebumps writing about it now.
Here is the part of Ataturk’s speech – a tribute to the ANZAC’s killed at Gallipoli – inscribed on the monument he erected at Anzac Cove;
“Heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
Lest We Forget.