A fan named Mandy in Melbourne, Australia wrote me on Facebook to let me know that today is Anzac Day. She said:
It’s a day to remember all those fallen soldiers in war. A memorial day. There is a tradition here to bake and eat “Anzac Biscuits.” They are delicious. Just thought you may look into it online and also find a recipe and share this day with your fans.
This was a new one to me, and I got inspired. I found a traditional Anzac Biscuit recipe from the Australian Department of Veteran’s Affairs. After a quick search for treacle (aka golden syrup) at my local gourmet market, I was able to whip up a batch in half an hour.
Anzac Day is similar to Memorial Day in the United States– it’s a day to remember all Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. Here is a bit of history on Anzac Day from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs website:
The Anzac tradition—the ideals of courage, endurance and mateship that are still relevant today—was established on 25 April 1915 when the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula. It was the start of a campaign that lasted eight months and resulted in some 25,000 Australian casualties, including 8,700 who were killed or died of wounds or disease. The men who served on the Gallipoli Peninsula created a legend, adding the word ‘Anzac’ to our vocabulary and creating the notion of the Anzac spirit. In 1916, the first anniversary of the landing was observed in Australia, New Zealand and England and by troops in Egypt. That year, 25 April was officially named ‘Anzac Day’ by the Acting Prime Minister, George Pearce.
The history behind the biscuits is really interesting. In the early 1900’s during World War I, these biscuits were sent to the front lines of battle to nourish Australian soldiers. They are made of simple ingredients that don’t spoil easily, which made them a practical choice for shipping to battle zones. They are also eggless, which was helpful because of war rationing– eggs were more difficult to come by than other ingredients. Most importantly they were yummy, and provided soldiers with a taste of home on the front lines.
Since this was my first time making Anzac Biscuits, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Turns out they are pretty tasty! They’re less like a cookie and more like a British biscuit (though not as crisp as a digestive biscuit)– they bake up soft, but as they cool they become chewy. The less you bake them, the softer they turn out. I baked them for about 12 minutes– next time I’ll try 10, and remove them from the oven when they’re only lightly golden. They come out of the oven super soft, but they firm up in a matter of minutes. They’ll even stay firm after dunking in tea or coffee. After reading up on the biscuits, I’ve found that some Anzac Biscuit recipes produce a softer, more cookie-like texture, while others produce a crisper result. This recipe seems to be right in the middle– firm, but chewy.
I only made two changes from the original recipe: I toasted the coconut, and I added 1/4 tsp of salt to the mix to play off of the sweetness of the syrup and sugar. It’s important to note that Australian tablespoons are slightly bigger than American tablespoons– an American tablespoon is 3 teaspoons, whereas an Australian tablespoon is 4 teaspoons. I’ve accounted for the measurement difference in the recipe. If you’re having trouble finding golden syrup (aka treacle), I’m guessing maple syrup would work fine and probably give a nice maple flavor to the biscuits. It won’t taste exactly the same, but it’s a workable sub.
Wishing all my Aussie readers a meaningful Anzac Day!
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- 1 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup rolled oats (I used Quick Oats)
- 1/4 tsp salt (optional)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 4 tsp treacle, aka golden syrup
- 2 1/2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp boiling water
- 1 tsp baking soda
- More water if needed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (these biscuits can be quite sticky, so I really recommend the parchment paper if you have it).If you'd like to toast your coconut, pour the shredded coconut into a skillet and heat slowly over medium, stirring constantly, till the flakes begin to turn golden brown. Watch it very carefully, the coconut can go from brown to burnt in a matter of seconds. When it's browned to your liking, immediately pour it into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the flour, sugar, rolled oats, and salt to the large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter and the treacle together, whisking till well combined. Remove from heat.
- In a small bowl, combine the baking soda with the boiling water, stir to combine. Add the soda and water to the melted butter and treacle.
- Pour the melted butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir till well combined. If the mixture seems to dry, add a little more water (I added about a tablespoon).
- Drop the dough in heaping teaspoonfuls onto the lined baking sheet, leaving plenty of room for spreading (they will spread quite a bit).
- Bake the biscuits in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden.
- Allow the biscuits to cool on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.