February 2, 2009

ANZAC Biscuits

T
he first time I saw an ANZAC biscuit was a few of years when Unibic came to India with their varieties of biscuits/ cookies. They came endorsed by the great cricketer Don Bradman, which was perfect marketing strategy (hopefully) in a cricket mad country!
If you happen to be in the U.S., then read "cookies" for "biscuits" here, but in the Commonwealth countries of the world, and India for sure we still like to call them biscuits even though I'm slowly seeing cookies taking over.

ANZAC stands for Australia & New Zealand Army Corps and ANZAC Day is celebrated in Australia and New Zealand on the 25th of April,  originally in 1916 to commemorate the first anniversary of the landing of the ANZAC troops at Gallipoli but consequently every year in the memory of all their soldiers who have fallen in wars.







Traditionally, an Anzac biscuit was a very hard biscuit made of rolled oats, flour, shredded coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda, and boiling water. The original Anzac biscuit was savoury and known as the Anzac tile or wafer, and were given to soldiers as rations during the war. The later gave way to sweet biscuits and recipes could be found in Australian cookbooks in the early 1900s under the name of “rolled oat biscuits” and “soldier’s biscuits”.

The modern version of the Anzac first made its appearance sometime during the 1920s,  and today they range from chewy to crisp in texture. The Anzacs we know are buttery, full of oats and flavoured with coconut.

The story goes that Anzacs were created by wives and girlfriends of soldiers in the wars overseas, to send to them. However, there is a suggestion that the majority of these biscuits were actually sold locally at fetes, parades and such public events to raise funds for the war effort.

The Anzacs that the soldiers got during the wars were very hard and they had to find ways to soften them before the biscuits could be eaten. Apparently, these measures included grating the biscuit and making that into a porridge with boiling water, or soaking them in water, then smearing with jam and baking them into a “tart” of sorts!





The original Anzacs were made the way they were because there was a paucity of ingredients during the wars. Also, the biscuits had to keep for a long time. Eggs were not easily available so treacle (nowadays replaced with golden syrup) as used as a binder and baking soda for leavening. butter, treacle (now golden syrup), and baking soda were used as the leavening agent instead, but they made for a very hard biscuit.There are different versions on the origin of these biscuits. Some say that ANZAC biscuits are a variation of Scottish oatcakes, but the most popular one is this version which certainly put ANZAC biscuits on the world map.

I have seen many recipes for these biscuits and all of them use most of the ingredients listed here, only differing in the use of either white or brown sugar and the golden or corn syrup. I used honey as neither corn syrup nor golden syrup is available here.
I also read somewhere that the coconut used in these biscuits has to necessarily be dessicated. This makes sense as these biscuits were made to last.

ANZAC Biscuits



Ingredients:


1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup brown sugar (or regular sugar)*

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup dessicated coconut

1/4 tsp salt

100gm butter

2 tbsp honey (or golden syrup/ date syrup)

3/4 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp water


*Either kind of sugar works equally well except that brown sugar  results in a darker biscuit.



Method:


In a bowl, mix the first five ingredients well.
Melt the butter in a pan. Take it off the heat, add the honey and stir well. Dissolve the baking soda in the water and add to the honey-butter mixture and stir well.

Now add the liquid to the ingredients in the bowl and mix well to form a firm dough. The dough will be somewhat dry compared to the average American cookie dough but you should be able to roll it into balls that hold shape. If the dough is of the correct consistency, you will be able to roll it into a smooth ball which doesn't crack when flattened.
If your dough feels sticky, add a little more flour, and if it is too dry, add just a bit of water to get the right dough consistency.




Take about a tbsp of dough and roll it into a ball about the size of a large walnut. Flatten it somewhat with your hand or the back of a fork to form a round that is not too thick or thin. The dough will not rise too much while baking.

Place the flattened biscuits on a lightly greased or parchment lined tray and bake at 170C (325F) for about 12 to 15 minutes till they look dry and brown. These biscuits tend to brown very easily (especially if you use brown sugar) so do check on them after 10 minutes of baking to ensure they don't burn.




When taken out of the oven, the biscuits will be very soft. Let them cool on the tray for about 10 minutes, then remove them and allow to cool very well on a rack.

This recipe makes about 2 dozen ANZAC biscuits. They are slightly sweet, crunchy on the outside and somewhat chewy in the middle the day they are made but can get soft if not stored in airtight containers.
If they do soften, re-crisp them in the oven at about 150C (300F) for 3 to 4 minutes.


33 comments:

Happy cook said...

I love these biscuits. And these ones looks super delicous.

Asha said...

Looks yummy and healthy, love the Oat cookies! :)

Rachel said...

these look very very delicious.....

Ashwini said...

wow..yummy and healthy biscuits...Love oat biscuits..

PG said...

the cookies look so delicious! I love all kinds of oat cookies. Lovely combination of ingredients.

Poonam said...

yummy cookies and healthy too!!

HoneyB said...

I love anzac biscuits! I never knew the story behind them though! Thanks!

Cham said...

Looks super healthy and very interesting story for the cookie

Rosie said...

I do love ANZAC biscuits and they are such a good keeper hence the soldiers biscuits - well not in my house they do get eaten up quickly lol...

Your ANZAC biscuits look delish :)

Rosie x

Curry Leaf said...

Aparna,these were on my to-do list.Love yours.yum yum.

jayasri said...

hi, Great story, I love anzac biscuits, because of the coconut in it, I wanted to try this some day, It looks great, did not know about the recipe, must try some day. looks yummy..........

pigpigscorner said...

They look so delicious! Love the shine.

Vibaas said...

Looks delicious.

Soma said...

I love the ANZAC biscuits. Recently I went someplace & had them... Urs look professional.. don't ur stuff always look that way?

Pavithra Kodical said...

Wow healthy and delicious biscuits.. Egg less!! I love to try this :)

Maya said...

Ah, was wondering what ANZAC biscuits are looking at the post, now I know. Looking so good.

A_and_N said...

Oh I remember those ANZAC biscuits. How we used to fight for them :) Great recipe, Aparna. Bookmarked for nephew!

Chris said...

I'm a huge fan of ANZACs! The coconut-honey flavor is very distinctive... and what I'm craving right now :)

Simran said...

Lovely cookies...I like the packaged Anzacs too, but I bet these taste way better.

Sunshinemom said...

I made this once when Jr.P was 4 after I read him a story about a kid who explores Australia:) Was a novice to baking then and mine came out chewy. I was so disappointed that I never tried them again. When I saw yours the first thing that struck me was that yours look puffed up while mine were flat! Maybe I should try them once more, after all!

Aparna said...

Appreciate the comments, thank you.
We enjoyed these ANZACs and though I'm not a cookie person, my daughter ate her way through them!

Having said that, these Unibic's ANZACs are crisper and not chewy at all. But the recipes I have seen all mention "chewy" ANZACS.

Harini, They're not as puffed up as regular cookies. Though if you flatten them less before baking they might be thicker. But then you might have to adjust baking times, as the middle wouldn't have cooked well.

Elra said...

This biscuits sounds so delicious.
Cheers,
Elra

Bharti said...

Sounds yummy. I like any cookies that have oats in them.

Rajani said...

hi aparna, i have never eaten or heard about these biscuits, the story behind it makesit even more interesting and makes me want to try them! i love the way you dig out interesting history behind recipes.

jayasree said...

Biscuit sounds delcious and healthy too. Should try it.

zlamushka said...

omg, Aparna, these biscuits loook sooooo fantastic, love them :-)

Smitha said...

Looks yum.. best part no eggs in them as well!

Jo said...

These look delicious. I've been meaning to try this recipe for a long time but have yet to tackle it. Maybe it's time ...

di_ani said...

I made them --
easy and quick, very tasty and aromatic.
I recommend them!
Thank you!

Aparna said...

Happy to know they turned out well.
And thanks for the feedback.:)

Rumela said...

I like this ANZAC biscuits recipe. these biscuits are sure to taste great and are extremely nutritious as well. I am going to bake a batch for the holidays when my kids will be at home. I'll be sure that what they are eating is healthy.

Char said...

hi aparna,

i love your recipes. Please tell me if the rolled oats are the same as quakers quick cooking oats one uses. which brand can i use here in mumbai.??

CHAR

Aparna said...

Thanks, Char. :)
Rolled oats is not the same as quick cooking oats. Rolled oats is thicker and takes a little longer to cook in porridge than quick cooking oats.
I personally prefer the rolled oats and like the texture better. I use a brand called Harvest Crunch.
I think you can use quick cooking oats in this recipe, just that the texture would be a bit different.