Remember how I was upset that we had to cancel our Russia/Finland/Estonia trip last week? What I didn’t tell you is that I am off on another adventure this weekend, so my spirits were quickly raised. To be honest, it would’ve been a full-on few weeks going on a 10-day trip, back for 4 days and then off on a 12-day trip, so it has been nice to not have to rush too much this week getting ready for the trip.
I work for an adventure tour operator, so this time I’m off on one of our tours from Sofia to Dubrovnik. One of the perks of my job is that I get to go on one of our tours every year in order to improve my product and destination knowledge. The decision of where I go rests largely on my manager, but I do get to put preferences in. Last year I was lucky enough to go to Cuba for three weeks and this year I get to experience 6 Eastern European countries in 12 days. It’s going to be fast-paced, but I can’t wait!
I’m telling you all of this not to rub it in, but to explain why there won’t be any posts over the next two weeks. Don’t fret though, I have a tonne of recipes up my sleeve for when I get back. They’re so good you’ll forget I was even gone!
Before I go though, I have to share this special recipe with you. My Australian and New Zealand friends will be familiar with it, and similar varieties probably exist throughout the world (British Hobnobs are very similar), but this recipe is special because of the history behind it. And seeing as I studied history at uni, it wouldn’t be right for me to not share this recipe and it’s history with you today. Today’s recipe is for Anzac Biscuits, chewy morsels of delight that are most commonly found in bakeries and homes across Australia (and I presume New Zealand) at this time of year.
Anzac biscuits are super simple to whip up, containing little more than rolled oats, desiccated coconut and golden syrup. Ok, that’s not true, there are a couple more ingredients in the recipe, but those are the main flavours. They are biscuits in the Australian and British sense of the word and not the American sense of the word. Consumers of Anzac biscuits are normally divided into two camps – those who like them chewy and those who like them crunchy. When you learn the history behind them, you’ll probably think that the crunchy ones are the more traditional version, but I promise you that the chewy ones taste so much better! That’s my biased opinion, anyway. The only difference recipe-wise between the chewy and crunchy biscuits is the cooking time – the longer you leave them in the oven, then crunchier they’ll be. Makes sense!
Anzac biscuits were said to have been created (or at least renamed shortly after) during World War I, when wives sent the biscuits to their husbands fighting as soldiers overseas. The biscuits contained no ingredients that would spoil on the long ship journey from Australia and New Zealand to Europe and the Middle East, so were perfect sweets to send to homesick men fighting in a faraway land.
They get their name from the ANZACs – the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps – soldiers who fought on behalf of the two countries during World War I at Gallipoli in Turkey. The campaign was a complete failure for the Allies, but the legacy of the mateship and heroism shown during the campaign formed part of the national identity in both Australia and New Zealand and is still a key part of our national identity today.
The ANZACs landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, and their legacy lives on through commemorative services around the world on 25 April every year – Anzac Day. Anzac Day is a public holiday in Australia and New Zealand, and it is a day to remember not only those who fought during World War I, but all soliders who have represented Australia or New Zealand in any conflict since. Many people will attend Dawn Services, or wreath-laying ceremonies later in the day, while major cities also hold marches for returned servicemen and women. In true Aussie form, many people will head down to the pub for a game of two-up as well.
While I haven’t been able to attend the Dawn Service held in London on Anzac Day since I’ve been here, I like to bake Anzac biscuits each year as a way of reminding me of the importance of Anzac Day. I like to take a few minutes out of my day to stop and think about the what Anzac Day means and why it is so important.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes for chewy, 20-25 minutes for crunchy
1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
1cup desiccated coconut
¾ cup brown sugar
125g butter, chopped
3 tbsp golden syrup
¾ tsp bicarb soda, dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water
- Preheat oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.
- In a large bowl, combine plain flour, rolled oats, desiccated coconut and brown sugar and mix well. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan over low heat, add butter and golden syrup and stir until butter is completely melted. Add bicarb soda mixture and stir well.
- Pour butter mixture over dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to mix well. Scoop out teaspoon-sized portions, roll into a ball and set on prepared baking trays, leaving space between each ball.
- Bake for about 15 minutes for a chewier biscuit or 20-25 minutes for a crunchier biscuit. Allow to cool on tray for 5 minutes, before cooling completely on a wire rack.
Enjoy the recipe everyone and see you in a few weeks!