There are rules about ANZAC biscuits. More particularly, there are rules about the use of the word “ANZAC”, in both Australia and New Zealand. In general, you can’t. Fortunately, those responsible for making the rules noticed that New Zealand and Australian women had been baking ANZAC biscuits for decades. We are permitted to continue to use the word in connection with the biscuits, provided the biscuits conform, more or less, to the approved recipe.
ANZAC biscuits are a delicious golden oaty biscuit. Tradition has it that they were baked and sent to soldiers serving in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during the Great War. They are good keepers – hence their suitability for shipping overseas. And they are very easy to make.
This is the recipe that has been in my family for at least 60 years, if not longer. I got it from my mother, and she from her mother. It’s a very easy recipe, so much so that it’s child’s play in our house.
Start by heating your oven to about 180 degrees Celsius (about 350 Fahrenheit), and grease two baking slides with butter, or line them with baking paper.
Melt together 125 grams (4oz) of butter, and a large tablespoon of golden syrup (that means about 20mls – a modern tablespoon is 15mls, but when my grandmother first started making these biscuits, tablespoons were 20mls).
Next comes the fun bit. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 2 tablespoons of very hot water. When the baking soda is thoroughly dissolved, pour the water into the butter and golden syrup mix, and watch as it froths and foams.
Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour the butter, golden syrup and baking soda in, and mix through. The mix will be quite heavy to stir, so if you have deputised your children to make them, you may need to lend a hand at this stage.
Take teaspoonsful of the mix (large ones), roll them into balls, and using a fork, press them down on the baking slides, leaving room for spreading. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown.
When you take the biscuits out of the oven, leave them to rest on the baking slide for 5 minutes, before putting them on cooling racks. When they are cool, put them in an airtight tin.
This recipe should yield about 45 biscuits. But that’s before you eat any of the uncooked mix (because it’s very yummy), or eat any of the still warm biscuits (even yummier). When I was a girl, I used to love eating them with a glass of milk. I would dip them into the milk, and then crunch into the biscuit, enjoying the contrast between the creaminess of the milk, and the hokey pokey crunch of the biscuit. These days, I make myself a cup of coffee (plunger coffee, made with freshly ground beans), get a couple of Anzacs out of the tin, and sit down with the paper for a mid-morning break. They go into my girls’ school lunches, and I’m always happy to be able to get some out when friends drop by. Somehow, they mean comfort to me, far more so than any other biscuits I make. Made and eaten with love.