Anzac Day is a time of reflection and ritual when we remember those who served and died in the First and Second World Wars – you may choose to attend a dawn service, watch a parade or simply dunk an Anzac biscuit in your afternoon cuppa. However, the Anzac biscuits that we enjoy today are a far cry from what the soldiers munched on in Gallipoli. In fact, the standard army fare known as a ‘Soldier’s Biscuit’ was such a rock hard tooth breaker that many of the soldiers preferred not to munch it but break it up and use it as a form of porridge.
After the Gallipoli landings in 1915 the hard, flat biscuit became known as an ‘Anzac Biscuit’ or ‘Anzac Wafer.’ It was typically made from flour, water, and salt, and if kept dry it could last for years. It was one of the non-perishable food items that could be sent by sea from home and provide some nutrition to the troops.
The softer, chewier rolled oats based biscuits were mainly sold at public events back in Australia to raise money for the war effort. The earliest known recipe for Anzac biscuits was published in the St Andrew’s Cookery Book (9th ed.) in 1919 in Dunedin, New Zealand but both countries share the tradition of Anzac biscuits. This early recipe was called ‘Anzac Crispies’ but soon became known as ‘Anzac Biscuits’ in later versions.
The basic ingredients of the Anzac biscuits that we eat today are: water, sugar, rolled oats and flour. They contain no eggs as eggs were in short supply during World War I as many poultry farmers went off to war. The lack of eggs and use of baking soda as the raising agent gives them their typically flat shape and crunchy texture. Due to the association of the biscuits with the Anzacs, the RSL often uses them for fundraising. However, they’re easy enough to make if you’re at home on Anzac Day.
Make your own Anzac biscuits for Anzac Day
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup coconut
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup castor sugar
- 125g butter
- 2 Tbsp golden syrup
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 Tbsp boiling water
- Preheat oven to 160°C. Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
- Combine flour, oats, coconut and combined sugar in a large bowl.
- Stir the butter, golden syrup and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Add to the oat mixture and stir until well combined.
- Roll level tablespoonfuls of the oat mixture into balls and place, about 5cm apart, on the prepared trays. Flatten until about 1cm thick. Bake, swapping trays halfway through cooking, for 15 minutes or until light golden. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Recipe courtesy of Taste.com.au.