A curious even took place in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.
A trans-Tasman bake off followed by a blind tasting of Anzac biscuits between two universities finally settled the argument once and for all – Australian Anzac biscuits were found to be the better, and sweeter biscuit, and this was according to New Zealanders themselves.
The story appeared in a newspaper that my colleagues, one a proud New Zealander, spent a great deal of time discussing. In another paper on the same day was an article about Maggie Beer’s Anzac biscuit recipe and her work with Camp Gallipoli.
Discussions continued. Arguments ensued. A plan was formed. All eyes around the table turned to me. Apparently, we were going to have our own little Anzac biscuit bake off.
Our New Zealand colleague had a copy of Edmonds Cookery Book, which is the book that the two universities used for their own blind tasting. The Australian recipe apparently came from the Country Women’s Association Cookbook (Australia), but none of us had that.
And since it looked like I was getting suckered into this bake off, I was going to use whatever recipe I wanted, and that was going to be Maggie’s one that I had already stealthily pulled out of the newspaper.
The story behind Anzac biscuits is a bittersweet one. Rations for soldiers in Gallipoli were appalling, and so Australian and New Zealand mothers, wives, sisters and daughters were tasked with creating biscuits that could survive a long sea journey. It is believed that golden syrup was first used as a substitute for eggs as a binding agent during this time. The resulting baked good was a biscuit that travelled well when sealed and offered their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons a homemade ration that was tasty and full of love.
Maggie Beer calls it ‘a recipe born of love and necessity’.
However, there was one strange ingredient listed in Maggie’s recipe for Anzac biscuits. Lemon zest. One persnickety colleague told me after the tasting: ‘They were really good, but they weren’t Anzac biscuits’.
His opinion didn’t matter that much. The unexpected hint of lemon was so good that my colleagues demolished my entire container full of biscuits.
Pretty sure I won that bake off… with the help of Maggie, of course!
I’m bringing these delicious lemon-scented Anzac biscuits to Fiesta Friday #65, created by the wonderful Angie @The Novice Gardener, which I am actually co-hosting for the first time this week with Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook. I’ve been following Jhuls from the very beginning, and I can tell you that she is a lot more creative than she gives herself credit for!
So please join us for this week’s party, it’s a lot of fun and there’s always an abundance of beautiful food to feast on, awe-inspiring recipes and great people to chat with.
It’s not difficult or scary to join: link your post to Angie, Jhuls and my sites so we know that you’ve arrived to the party, and tag your post with ‘Fiesta Friday’ so that other like-minded revellers can find you. Doing so will also ensure that you’re in the running to be in the weekly feature – and we can all admit that when that happens we are ecstatically pleased, chuffed and a just a little proud. If you need them, here are the guidelines. To join, visit the FF #65 party and follow the prompts… easy peasy people!
Lemon-Scented Anzac Biscuits
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- ¾ cup firm packed brown sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 125g butter
- 2 tablespoons golden syrup
- 2 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon bicarb soda
- Preheat the oven to 160°C.
- Mix the plain flour, rolled oats, coconut, brown sugar and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the golden syrup and water. Once the butter has melted bring to a simmer over very low heat and then add the bicarb soda carefully as it will fizz.
- Add the butter and golden syrup mix to the dry ingredients and fold though.
- Roll into balls about 2cm around* and place on a lined baking tray, leaving space in between for the biscuits to spread. Slightly flatten each ball with the back of a teaspoon.
- Bake at 160°C for 16 minutes and golden in colour. Allow to cool on the baking tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
* For thin, crispier Anzac biscuits, use small balls of the mixture. For softer, chewer biscuits, make them a little larger, between 5 and 6cm.
Recipe by Maggie Beer.