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U3A Writing: Anzac Biscuits

Meryl Nichols brings a brief history of Anzac Biscuits - then tells how to make them.

Two things my mother could not conquer; scones and Anzac biscuits. Her scones were tough and dry and her Anzacs were lumps, instead of the crisp biscuits that originated in World War I.

Relatives of men fighting overseas felt that their rations should be supplemented by something more nourishing. This posed a problem as merchant ships which supplied the troops were not equipped with refrigeration. Food that would spoil during the slow voyage was useless. What to send?

After much experimenting and discussion, a group of women decided that a biscuit of high nutritional value would solve the problem. A Scottish recipe using rolled oats was unearthed and used as a basis for the biscuits. (It was known that the Scots used hot oaten porridge for its nutritional value, to counteract the effects of their bitterly cold winters.)

The final biscuit was made from rolled oats, sugar, golden syrup or treacle, bicarbonate of soda and boiling water - all ingredients that would not readily spoil. Soldier's Biscuits - as they were originally called - changed to Anzac biscuits after the Gallipoli campaign.

Many women's groups became involved in the making and packaging of the Anzac biscuits, which were well received by the fighting men as a welcome diversion from their usual rations. The biscuits were packed in airtight tins to keep them crisp and tasty.

The basic recipe is still used today although the ingredients may be added to or varied in some ways. The following tried and true recipe was supplied by Sheila Bossa.

125g (4oz) butter
1 tablespoon Golden Syrup
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 cup '2 minute oats'
cup dessicated coconut
1 cup s/r flour
1 cup sugar

METHOD:
Melt butter and syrup over low heat,
add boiling water and bicarb.
Cool slightly and pour into dry ingredients.
Mix well.
Put teaspoons of mixture onto a greased tray.
Cook in a slow oven 150 C or 300 F 20 mins.
Cool on tray for a few minutes before removing.

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