Thursday, 4 June 2009

ANZAC Biscuits

As far as classic Australian food goes, you probably can't beat the humble ANZAC biscuit. The folklore surrounding this simple biscuit, a probable relative of the traditional Scottish oatcake, is such that it's virtually impossible to make them without feeling deep levels of nostaliga, romanticism or even patriotism. 

The story goes that they were devised as a way of sending baked goods to loved ones (ie soldiers) at the front during World War I. It doesn't seem clear whether it was an Australian or New Zealand creation (ANZAC, for the non-locals, stands for Australia & New Zealand Army Corps) and I have long thought that was fitting. Neither of our fine nations should claim it solely as its own. We should happily share (but the Kiwis can have Russell Crowe back. Just thought I should get that out there.)

ANZAC Biscuits

This is a photo I sent to Sean at work to show him what I was up to while home from work today. He thought it was a cruel taunt. Paired with the 'I'll save you one' email, it probably was. 

I was prompted to write about them after, having mentioned on Facebook or Twitter that I was baking some, Julie asked could I blog about what ANZAC biscuits are. Julie, they are yummy.

There are loads of recipes out there but the essential concept remains the same among each variation. There must be flour, rolled oats, sugar, butter, golden syrup and bi carb soda. Some recipes will add coconut. 

I used a recipe posted on Chez Pinry this week.  I could have just as easily used the classic Country Women's Association recipe that Kuka posted recently. Only minor differences between them, but those little differences can really make for a very different biscuit.

I'm of the 'must be chewy' school of ANZAC biscuit baking. Some prefer them hard and crunchy. 

But no matter how they turn out, ANZACs make me think of childhood, of perpetually rainy days in Tasmania when my mum used to make them (it was a rainy day today - very appropriate); that buttery, chewy texture never fails to please. And they never last very long either.

It must be added, in closing, that sometimes I love to make them simply because of the thrill of seeing what happens when you add the bi-carb soda to the saucepan of boiling hot butter and golden syrup. The golden foamy effusion makes me feel all sciency. Every time.