Monday, 23 April 2012

ANZAC Biscuits

Here in New Zealand and in Australia, 25 April is our main day of remembrance. We call it ANZAC Day, and the date was chosen because on April 25 1915, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) soldiers fought in their first major battle, at Gallipoli.  New Zealand lost nearly 3,000 troops in the battle - a lot for such a small nation.

ANZAC Day is now a commemoration for all those who have served in New Zealand military operations. We start the day with dawn services at cenotaphs and memorials around the country. Several of my own grandfathers, great-grandfathers and uncles served in WWI and WWII, so I'll be taking time out on Wednesday to remember and thank them.

We have another tradition in New Zealand and Australia every April - we make these Anzac Biscuits. The story goes that these biscuits were sent to our soldiers overseas by their wives and mothers, because the biscuits keep so well... there is a fairly big question mark over the authenticity of that, but it's a nice story all the same. You'll also notice there are no eggs in this recipe - most of our poultry farmers joined the war effort and eggs were rather scarce.

Enjoy these little golden biscuits, which are crisp at first but will get chewier after a day or two. They are truly delicious and a real favourite in New Zealand and Australia.

A quick note - golden syrup is a delicious sugar product made in New Zealand; it's a pantry staple for us. If you don't have access to golden syrup then perhaps try maple syrup or treacle as a substitute - they're the closest thing I can think of.

ANZAC Biscuits
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup dessicated coconut
3/4 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
4oz butter
2 Tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp boiling water

Preheat the oven to 180(C) and line a baking tray or two with baking paper.

In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, coconut, flour and sugar. In a medium saucepan, gently melt together the butter and golden syrup. Put the baking soda in a cup or ramekin, and add the boiling water. Mix to disssolve the baking soda then pour it into the saucepan with the butter and syrup. It will foam up which is always a little exciting! Stir it with a wooden spoon and tip it into the bowl of dry ingredients. Mix to a crumbly sort of dough. Drop in spoonfuls onto the prepared trays, and leave a bit of room for spreading.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until they are nicely round and a golden colour. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight tin - you could test the myth of how well they keep, but I don't think they'll last long enough for you to find out!