Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Lest we forget

Is there anything more iconic to Australia than Anzac Biscuits??

As I was pruning my rosemary bush, which seemed to have grown a foot in the last month, I was reminded of the upcoming public holiday to commemorate Anzac Day.  That day, 25th "
April, 1915 when so many young men in the prime of their young lives, some not even technically old enough to be at war, gave their lives and also in the days and months to come, so that we could have freedom and choice.

Anzac biscuits originated as an oatcake which is Scottish in origin and although they were sent to the troops serving overseas as an alternative to some of the dry and no doubt tasteless fare of which they generally partook, were not named Anzac Biscuits until the early 1920's.
  Reference to 'Anzac' before this was a cake which came from  St Andrews Cookery Book.  The earliest reference to a biscuit of this name was in 1917 in the War Chest Cookery Book published in Sydney,  however this biscuit was quite different.

In 1921 a biscuit called Anzac Crispies was published in the St Andrews Cookery book in Dunedin and this appears to be the recipe that we are all familiar with now.  Later editions renamed them Anzac biscuits and Australian cook books followed suit soon after.

The first published recipe that labelled these biscuits Anzac and included the same ingredients we are familiar with was in Mrs  H.W. Smiths' 600 tested recipes in 1923. 

 This history is according to Professor Helen Leach of Otago University who is well known for her research into the origin of food/recipes etc.  This same lady disabused Australians about claiming Pavlova as their own.
However, as both countries were following a similar path at the same time regarding Anzac biscuits, it is generally held that they  jointly share credit.

I followed the Womens Weekly recipe, again with a little variation in the form of some self raising flour and unsalted peanuts

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup self raising flour
3/4 cup coconut
125gm butter
2 tablespoon golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon boiling water
chopped unsalted nuts optional

*Combine oats, flours, sugar and coconut

*combine butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan
*stirring over gentle heat until melted

*mix soda with boiling water

*add to dry ingredients and mix well

*place tablespoons of mix onto a tray lined with baking paper

allowing room for spreading               
*cook in a slow oven 15-20 minutes
*I did 160 deg in a fan forced oven

*you can trial a few at different times to see how you best like them when cool, crisp or chewy
*loosen while warm and cool on trays 

Serve for morning tea, afternoon tea or anytime really, accompanied by a good cup of tea, preferably made in a pot with tea leaves instead of tea bags, which, after all, weren't invented when anzac biscuits were first enjoyed.

Spend some time  giving thanks for those who sacrificed so we can sit in our kitchens enjoying these iconic delights as yet another Anzac Day dawns nearly 100 years later.

May we NEVER forget