Today was Anzac Day, and I made Anzac biscuits for the first time. So on today’s adventure, you get a history lesson and a recipe for some delicious sweet treats. Yay!
Anzac stands for Australia New Zealand Army Corps, and Anzac Day is a day of remembrance. It originally commemorated the anniversary of the first campaign of World War I (Gallipoli), which saw massive casualties from Australia and New Zealand. But as time has gone on, it’s become a day to reflect on the losses of war, and as a way to memorialise and honour all the Anzac troops, past and present, and mateship/brotherhood.
Australians celebrate Anzac day by attending Dawn Service, the National Ceremony, or watching the parades. Or, you can go out to the pub, play 2-up until you’re broke, drink til you’re blasted, and get into huge fights (yay friendship!).
Or, if you’re like me, you can stay home in your sweatpants and make Anzac Biscuits. It’s a sweet oat cookie that’s usually thin and crispy – I’ve had some that were so hard they nearly cut the roof of my mouth. But I’ve also had them almost dreamily soft and chewy. Apparently there’s a great divide between Team Soft and Team Crunch. I like my cookies basically raw so you can imagine where my loyalties lie.
Some say the origins of this crunchy boy come from a Scotish recipe whose ingredients didn’t spoil quickly, so girlfriends and wives were able to send treats to their soldiers overseas without them going bad en route. Some say they were cobbled together using ingredients that weren’t war-time scarce – so butter, baking soda, and golden syrup were used when eggs couldn’t be found. Either way, the recipe produced a hard, crunchy cookie that could be difficult to eat. Soldiers often ate them mixed with tea or crumbled up in porridge. They resemble a hard-tack biscuit which the troops could make when their supplies were low. They were called “soldier biscuits” but overtime took on the Anzac moniker.
I’ve eaten my fare share of these delicious yums, but I’ve never made them before. And so, the stars kinda aligned this year – we didn’t have any plans for the day, and I’ve been really slacking off in the kitchen and with writing, so I thought hey – let’s do something traditional. Let’s make some Anzac Biscuits! So I scoured the web and found tips upon tips upon tips, and a recipe that used a bunch of swear words so I immediately trusted it.
The players – rolled oats, desiccated coconut, bi-carb (or baking) soda, unsalted butter, golden syrup, plain flour, raw sugar, water. Easy as.
*I got my mixer out all psyched to use it, but it was unfortunately un-neccissito.
Make sure you’re wearing spiffy slippers while you work:
The Dry Stuff
The Not Dry Stuff
PRO TIP: As I was researching recipes, they all stressed the importance of sifting the flour first. I always see recipes that advise sifting the flour first, but I only do it like, 1 out of ten times. As I was about to skip this step, Joel reminded me that one of our fave Youtube chefs says to always sift the flour, because unsifted flour won’t get you the accurate measurements. I don’t have one of those big quick sifters anymore, so I spent about 5 minutes sifting one teaspoon at a time. And it was weirdly soothing and meditative. And I’m all about being accidentally soothed.
STEP ONE – get your boyfriend to mix the flour, oats, sugar, and coconut together with a wooden spoon while you take a picture
STEP TWO – melt the butter and golden syrup together over low heat
STEP FOUR – admire your cat. She’s so sweet.
STEP FIVE – mix together 1/4 teaspoon bi-carb soda with 3 tablespoons boiling water, and then combine with the butter and syrup once the butter has melted. If the mixture grows and gets foamy, that’s all good.
STEP SIX – combine baking soda with dry ingredients
STEP SEVEN: roll into small balls and place on baking paper lined trays, about 6 cms apart. I still don’t know what a centimetre is, so I broke out the ruler. I figured if I was going to follow the rules and sift the flour, then I’d follow the rules with my spacing. I AM FOLLOWING THE RULES.
Everything I read said to really be careful with the spacing, because the cookies spread and you could end up with one gigantic cookie. So I popped these in the oven and was like “plz behave”
STEP 8 – pop in pre-heated 180*C oven and bake for 15 mins.
And they behaved! Probably because I had the right amount of flour, because I sifted it. And because I spaced them properly. RULES.
PRO TIPS – turn the pan around half way through the baking so all the cookies get a turn in the hot spots. I mean, unless you have an oven that “heats evenly” and whose door “closes all the way and doesn’t let heat escape”
These oaty boys will be super soft when you bring them out of the oven, so let them cool on the tray for about 10 mins before transferring them to a wire rack.
They came out of the oven much darker than the oatmeal cookies I’m famous for (very famous), so I was having an abject internal mental breakdown that the bottoms would be charcoal black with burnt failure.
But another success, as the bottoms were soft and golden and sexy. Probably once again, because I followed the rules and turned the pan half way through cooking. RULES.
PRO TIP – a smaller ball of dough will make a smaller, flatter cookie. I made big azz bizkits because I love fat, soft, stacked cookies. I am also Team Chewy, so I undercooked them by 2-3 minutes. If you small, crispy boys, turn down the temp by 30 degrees leave in the oven for 5-10 mins longer.
This batch made 12 cookies, but I could have halved the dough balls and made 24, easily. I could have just as easily eaten all 24 in a one hour period. They’re much sweeter than my oatmeal cookies, and while they aren’t as rich, they feel like they’re much more filling. I loved that they’re simple to make, easy to bake. And clean up took about 5 minutes.
Once the whole batch was finished and cooled, I took one to my Resident Australian and Quality Assurance Investigator for testing. And after some deliberation, they were stamped with approval. He even gave them a little photo shoot.
Anzac Biscuits by Monique Bowley of Mamamia.com.au
Happy Anzac Day, everyone! Eat a sweet biscuit and say some words of gratitude today.
Lest we forget.
One thought on “Anzac Biscuits: an introduction”
One originally sifted to get the flour bugs out.
History is a bitch.