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Monday, June 13, 2011

The history of Anzac Biscuits

Kiwis and Aussies know all about Anzac biscuits, but I had a request from Linda on the previous post to let the secret out to the American ladies.
During World War 1, the wives, mothers and girlfriends of the Australian and New Zealand soldiers were concerned for the nutritional value of the food being supplied to their men. Any food they sent to the fighting men had to be carried in the ships of the Merchant Navy, which travelled at a slow  ten knots an hour.  The ships had no refrigerated facilities, meaning that any food sent had to be able to remain edible for several months. The  answer was a Scottish recipe using rolled oats.  Oats were used extensively in Scotland in a heavy porridge that helped counteract the extremely cold climate.  The ingredients they used in the biscuits were: rolled oats, sugar, plain flour, coconut, butter, golden syrup or treacle, bi-carbonate of soda and boiling water. All these items did not readily spoil. At first the biscuits were called Soldiers’ Biscuits, but after the landing on Gallipoli, they were renamed Anzac Biscuits.  No eggs were used to bind the Anzac biscuit mixture together. Because of the war, many of the poultry farmers had joined the services, and eggs were very scarce. The binding agent for the biscuits was golden syrup or treacle. As the war drew on, many groups like the CWI (Country Women’s Institute), church groups, schools and other women’s organisations devoted a great deal of time to the making of Anzac biscuits. To ensure that the biscuits remained crisp, they were packed in used tins, such as tea tins.
Anzac Biscuits:
Melt 125gr butter and 2 tablespoons golden syrup.  Dissolve 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 tablespoon boiling water and add to  butter mixture. Place half cup of coconut, half cup of sugar, 1 cup of rolled oats and 1 cup flour in mixing bowl, and mix well with melted butter mixture.  Roll into small balls, place on greased oven tray and flatten slightly with a fork.  Bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.


Maria said...

Thanks for that Jenny. I did not know the FULL history of our ANZAC bicuits either.
It is cold here today so I think I will go and make a batch.

FlourishingPalms said...

Thank you for sharing this, Jenny. I didn't know the story behind the biscuits, though I'm proud to say I know what ANZAC stands for!

I will definitely make this recipe in the future. Since we're in summer now, with the air-con running more often than not, I'll probably save using the oven until a cool day. And I'll have only to do a little conversion - grams (butter) to teaspoons, and celsius to fahrenheit.

Katie said...

Hmmmm. I need to find a gluten-free recipe for Anzac biscuits so I can surprise DH with them. :-)