Anzac biscuits received their name during the First World War. Up until that time people had been baking ‘Soldier’s biscuits’ for the troops, based on a recipe derived from the Scottish oat cake.
The main feature is the absence of eggs to prevent biscuits spoiling on the long journey to the front. These were renamed as Anzac biscuits after the campaign at Gallipoli.
As all 3 Bookery Cook sisters were in different locations around the world this Anzac Day, we decided to celebrate with an intercontinental sisterly quest to bake the perfect Anzac biscuits.
Not that we think there needs to be any variation on the traditional Anzac biscuits, due to their honourable heritage and perfectly balanced flavour and texture. However, by small twists in fate and absent-mindedness, we all ended up with some kind of variation…
VERSION 1: ANZAC Bounty Biscuits
Before settting off to bake the perfect Anzac biccies I tried my best to conjure distant memories of grandad making them. I remember his mixture was dark and think he was far more generous with the golden syrup than the variation I made. In retrospect… more golden syrup.
Anzac day is a public holiday in Australia and most shops and markets are closed for the day! I had arranged a day of cooking for flatmates, with a spot of baking in. After finally managing to track down all ingredients for the day of cooking my forgetful mind had let me down on an essential ingredient for the biscuits….coconut.
So I set out on another mission to find some desiccated coconut on a public holiday in Queensland. Not an easy task. The 7/11 around the corner was about the only thing open in the city and I was able to get what I needed. Well, sort of…
So here’s my version of good ol’ Anzac Bounty Biscuit.
125 grams butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup coconut 3 Bounty bars (1 cup), roughly chopped.
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
In a saucepan gently melt the butter then add the golden syrup and heat, stirring until thoroughly combined. Put the baking soda in a cup or small bowl then pour in the boiling tablespoon of water.
Pour this foaming mixture into the warm butter/golden syrup mixture and stir to incorporate – it will foam up. Now gradually add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring well to incorporate.
Place walnut size pieces of the dough on a buttered oven tray and then press down with the back of a fork to flatten.
Bake at 180°C for about 15 minutes.
VERSION 2: Light & nutty ANZAC Biscuits
Having just moved to Melbourne 2 days earlier, I had zero ingredients for Anzac biscuits. So I set out on my first trip to the Northcote Plaza to locate some baking trappings and wares.
I could recite the Anzac biscuit recipe by heart, having spent many days helping my Grandad make them when I was little (he is the undisputed Christmas cake and Anzac biscuit champion in our family). Thinking that I had nailed the ingredients, I got home to embark on my first baking experience in my new kitchen!
However.. when I reached my favourite stage of melting the butter and golden syrup before stirring it through the dry mixture to make a hot, buttery, addictively delicious biscuit mixture, I realised had forgotten to buy the syrup. Fortunately my new housemate had some honey I could steal, which I used in place of the golden syrup in the same quantity.
I figured that as I was altering the recipe anyways, I may as well keep going and add some chopped macadamia nuts.
The result? This recipe yields biscuits with perfect Anzac-biscuit consistency – chewy and a little crunchy around the edges. The honey made for a lighter (in colour and flavour) and slighter sweeter biscuit, and macadamias added a welcome extra nutty decadence and worked well with the honey flavour. Luckily I impressed the new housemate and she didn’t even mind I’d used all her honey
1 cup oats
1 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup plain flour
1/3 cup macadamias, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons honey (or traditionally, Golden Syrup)
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon boiling water
Preheat oven to 180•C and line a large tray with baking paper. Combine oats, coconut, sugar, flour and macadamias in a large mixing bowl.
Combine butter and honey in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until melted and well-combined.
In a small dish, combine bicarbonate of soda and boiling water and stir to dissolve soda. Pour soda mixture into butter mixture and stir well to combine. The mixture will get a little frothy here (my favourite step as a kid and still now).
Pour butter mixture into dry mixture and stir well.
Roll biscuits into small balls and flatten slightly. Be sure to leave enough room between the biscuits to allow them to spread (otherwise you’ll end up with Anzac slice).
Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, until cookies are golden.
Allow to cool in the tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a drying rack. Serve with a nice strong cuppa.
VERSION 3: Coconut-less Anzac Slice
I was pretty excited about baking Anzac biscuits to take in the office to show off my national pride and baking skills. Sadly however, due to a series of events and brain fail, my biscuits never made it further than a tupperware container above my fridge.
My first wrong move was going to the supermarket in crazy lady hungry mode, so I grabbed everything and anything. I arrived home home to find that I had forgotten two key ingredients, golden syrup and coconut!
My second wrong turn was trying to bake them before eating dinner (was pre empting the post dinner warm biscuit and tea). I half read the recipe and instead of adding 90g of oats, I added 150g (the amount of flour!). To counteract this I melt more butter, added about 200g of flour, a bit more sugar and maple syrup.
Being very very doubtful these would turn out, I decided not attempt to make individual biscuits, but opted for the ‘Anzac slice’ option.
The final result in a very sugary oat heavy slice with a hint of the traditional anzac biscuit.. it wasn’t terrible, my roommate, who thankfully is English and has never eaten a traditional Anzac biscuits before, claimed they were delicious. But would I bake the coconutless version again…. no. I love coconut and I think it is one of the best features of an Anzac biscuit.
Below is the recipe I was meant to follow!
1 cup (150g) plain flour
1 cup (90g) rolled oats
1 cup (85g) desiccated coconut
3/4 cup (155g) brown sugar
2 tbs golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbs water
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line two baking trays with non‐stick baking paper. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Stir in the oats, coconut and brown sugar.
Put the butter, golden syrup and 2 tbs water in a small saucepan. Stir over a medium heat until melted. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda.
Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.
Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Place on the trays, about 5cm apart. Press with a fork to flatten slightly. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Set aside on the trays for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack so it cools completely.
We’ll let you decide the winner 😀