Yesterday – 25 April – was Anzac Day. Now, in the days before I got myself the Kiwi Boyfriend, I mainly knew the word Anzac from some recipe for Anzac Biscuits that I had cooked when I was a kid. But I have been educated since then and now know that Anzac Day commemorates the date in 1915 when forces from this side of the world, fighting as part of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (hence the name Anzac) landed on the shores of the Gallipoli peninsula. The Gallipoli expedition has gone down in history as one of the most ill-fated campaigns of World War I. It had to be abandoned after nine months but, by that stage, almost one-third of the New Zealanders taking part had been killed.
The Anzac Biscuits of my childhood were devised by the women at home to send to their soldiers in Gallipoli. The biscuits – a mixture of oats, coconut, flour, butter and golden syrup – had to survive a long sea voyage (no airmail in those days!) hence the lack of eggs in the mixture. Despite their wartime origins, they’re really very edible as I re-discovered last year. I intended on making the biscuits as a surprise for my Boyfriend who, in Ireland, had to work through what would normally be a bank holiday for him. A halt was put to my plans when I discovered that my local Tesco – never very well supplied – had run out of the desiccated coconut that I needed. There must have been more New Zealand and Australian people living in the area than I had realised! About two weeks later, when they finally got around to restocking, I was finally able to buy the coconut and make the biscuits. They might have been slightly out of date at that stage but they weren’t any less tasty for the fact.
So, as this year’s Anzac Day rolled around, and with me living in one of the countries particularly involved, I decided to revisit last year’s recipe – until I realised that it couldn’t be found. I know that I discovered the original on the internet but it seemed to be hiding this time round. I did, however, find this recipe on the New Zealand schools social studies site and, with a few tweaks, it turned out just fine although not up to the standard of the Boyfriend’s mother’s biscuits, of course. I must get after her for the family recipe!
Plain flour – 50g
Sugar – 75g
Desiccated coconut – 50g
Rolled or porridge oats – 50g
Butter – 50g
Golden syrup – 1 tablespoon
Bread soda – ½ teaspoon
Boiling water – 2 tablespoons
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix the flour, sugar, coconut and oats together in a large bowl. Melt the butter and golden syrup together. Dissolve the bread soda in the boiling water and add to the melted butter and golden syrup. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients mixture and add the liquids, mixing until well blended. Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on a well-greased baking tray. Flatten slightly with a fork dipped in water. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until brown. Allow to cool slightly on the baking tray before transferring to wire cooling rack.