Remembrance Day and the Great Australian Biscuit

Posted: November 11, 2011 in General

Today is the 93rd anniversary of the end of World War One, a conflict so horrific that afterwards it was thought that there would surely never be any more wars. Unfortunately history didn’t work out that way, and on this day we pause and think about the ongoing conflicts in the world and their continuing human toll.

It’s a very serious day. But let’s not forget the one positive legacy of the Great War on Australian culture: a legacy that many Australians enjoy on a daily basis. We are of course referring to the ANZAC biscuit. This humble staple of Aussie snacking has a long history that is inextricably linked to the war of 1914-1918. The official ANZAC Day website tells us:

“During World War 1, the wives, mothers and girlfriends of the Australian soldiers were concerned for the nutritional value of the food being supplied to their men. Here was a problem. Any food they sent to the fighting men had to be carried in the ships of the Merchant Navy. Most of these were lucky to maintain a speed of ten knots. Most had no refrigerated facilities, so any food sent had to be able to remain edible after periods in excess of two months.

A body of women came up with the answer – a biscuit with all the nutritional value possible. The basis was a Scottish recipe using rolled oats. The ingredients they used 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.” (Read the whole article here)

Today many teachers brought in ANZAC biscuits as part of our observance of Remembrance Day, and we in the library have been enjoying their oaty goodness with our cups of tea. As will tend to happen any time ANZAC biscuits are served, there has been some debate around the issue of crunchy versus chewy ANZACS, with the librarians tending to prefer chewy (but open to extensively testing crunchy ones as well).

Extensive research on this topic led us to the following recipe, passed on to the Australian War Memorial’s website by a digger who was actually at the Gallipoli landing. We reproduce this recipe below for your information and edification, and don’t forget: if you bake a batch of ANZACs, your friendly librarians will always be happy to help you eat them!

“The following is a original recipe provided by Bob Lawson, an ANZAC present at the Gallipoli landing.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar, rolled oats, and coconut
  • 4 oz butter
  • 1 tbls treacle (golden syrup)
  • 2 tbls boiling water
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda (add a little more water if mixture is too dry)

Method

1. Grease biscuit tray and pre-heat oven to 180°C.
2. Combine dry ingredients.
3. Melt together butter and golden syrup. Combine water and bicarbonate soda, and add to butter mixture.
4. Mix butter mixture and dry ingredients.
5. Drop teaspoons of mixture onto tray, allowing room for spreading.
6. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on tray for a few minutes before transferring to cooling racks.”

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Comments
  1. Joan says:

    Hello! I just copied the Australia Anzac Biscuit onto our website, hope that’s okay. Here’s the link http://www.wherethebooksare.com/ And what a great site!

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