Long Weekend Baking: ANZAC Biscuits

What a lovely long weekend! As it encompassed celebrations for Easter, St George’s Day and ANZAC Day there was plenty of excuses for me to find my way to the kitchen apron-adorned for some baking. By Monday lunch time I had accomplished the following: two dozen Easter Buns, one dozen St George Cupcakes and two dozen ANZAC Biscuits. I also made my first batch of Julie & Isa’s sausages, though in true Lizzie style I refused to follow any one recipe and instead attempted a Lincolnshire inspired banger. While it was a success sausage, it wasn’t quite ready to fly the Lincolnshire flag so it’s back to the kitchen to tweak the ingredients a bit more before I post that recipe. So as to not inundate you with recipe after recipe in this post, I’m gonna stretch them out over the next few days. For this post I’m going to concentrate on the ANZAC Biscuits. 

April 25th is ANZAC Day; an annual day of remembrance observed in New Zealand and Australia, initially for those ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) soldiers who fought at Gallipoli in the First World War but it has since included subsequent military operations by the two countries. While Armistice Day is observed in NZ, it is ANZAC Day which is the focus point for services of remembrance, starting with Dawn Services that herald in the day throughout the country. ANZAC Biscuits are a southern hemisphere baking tradition. The recipe comes from the biscuits that those left back home would send to the boys on the front. The ingredients are all suitable for long periods of transport which meant that the biscuits got to the other side of the planet in an edible condition. The only hitch in making them up in the northern hemisphere is procuring the correct type of golden syrup. New Zealand golden syrup is darker than its English cousin. As a result, ANZAC Biscuits made with English golden syrup are a bit anaemic in appearance. Similarly, you can’t make a Treacle Tart with Kiwi golden syrup – it ends up tasting a bit bitter. To get around this problem I settled on half English golden syrup, half black treacle and brown sugar instead of caster sugar. The final result was pretty close to how I remember an ANZAC Biscuit from back home. My recipe is a variation on the one found in one of my first ever cookbooks: New Zealand Quick ‘n’ Easy Muffins, Cakes, Biscuits, Slices, Loaves, Scones (right). I got this cookbook when I was eleven and it has been much used and modified over the years. Its middle pages have come away from the rest and threaten to escape and there are batter stains on some pages but I still love it. Anyway, this is my recipe for ANZAC Biscuits.

ANZAC Biscuits (makes 24)

½ cup dairy-free margarine

2 tablespoons Kiwi golden syrup – or 1 tablespoon English golden syrup & 1 tablespoon black treacle

 ¾ teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon very hot water

 ½ cup desiccated coconut

½ cup caster sugar – or brown sugar if using English golden syrup

1 cup rolled oats

½ cup all purpose flour

½ cup wholemeal flour 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C and prepare the baking sheets/cookie sheets.
  2. Melt the margarine and golden syrup over gentle heatin a saucepan large enough to hold all ingredients. Let it cool slightly.
  3. Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water and add the baking soda mixture to the golden syrup mixture. Add the coconut, sugar and rolled oats to the saucepan and sift in the flours. Combine all the ingredients.
  4. Round tablespoonful of mixture into balls and flatten onto the prepared baking sheets (left). Each biscuits should be about ½ cm thick and about 1 ½ cm apart. There should be enough mixture for about 24 biscuits.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes – 8 minutes for a softer biscuit, 10 minutes for a crisper biscuit. If you want a really crisp teeth-shattering biscuit you may want to brave 12 minutes.
  6. Once done, let them cool on the tray for 5-10 minutes and then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

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