A Cook's Guide to Grains by Jenni Muir
During the first World War, it quickly became common usage to refer to the soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps by its acronym. The first Anzac Day, which remains an annual remembrance event Down Under, was inaugurated on 25 April 1916 to commemorate the first anniversary of the landing of the Anzac troops at Gallipoli. These biscuits, devised by the women at home to send to the fighting men, had to be able to survive at least two months at sea on merchant navy ships, so are chewy and made without eggs.
• 85g/1 cup rolled oats
• 150g/1 cup plain wheat flour
• 100g/1/2 cup sugar
• 50g/1/2 cup desiccated coconut
• 110g/1/2 cup butter, plus extra for greasing
• 1 tbsp golden syrup
• 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 1 tbsp boiling water
Heat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2 and lightly grease a baking sheet. Place the oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a mixing bowl.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and golden syrup together over a low heat. Meanwhile, place the bicarbonate of soda in a small bowl and pour on the boiling water. When the butter has melted, stir the soda solution into the saucepan so that the mixture foams up.
Pour the bubbly butter mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix well to give a chunky dough. Place tablespoons of the mixture on the greased baking sheet, spacing them well apart.
Bake the Anzacs for 20 minutes, then remove them from the oven. Using a palette knife or fish slice, transfer the biscuits while still warm to a wire rack to cool before eating. Store in an airtight tin.
• Myriad recipes now exist for Anzacs, and they are sold mass-produced in Australian and New Zealand supermarkets with various flavourings, including macadamia nuts and wattleseeds. As with all traditional regional foods, every cook has a favourite recipe and tut-tuts at any version deemed to be inauthentic. I purse my lips and frown disapprovingly at Anzacs with a cakey texture. They are supposed to be chewy but softish.
• There is some dispute about whether coconut was an original ingredient - apparently it was not easy to buy in Australia during the First World War, or so some people claim - but it quickly came to be seen as one of the Anzacs' characteristic ingredients. The other essentials are rolled oats, golden syrup (the binding agent), butter and bicarbonate of soda.