Lemon-Scented Anzac Biscuits

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.

Lemon-Scented Anzac Biscuits

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’.

Lemon-Scented Anzac Biscuits

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

  • Servings: makes about 30 biscuits
  • Print

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


  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Mix the plain flour, rolled oats, coconut, brown sugar and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the butter and golden syrup mix to the dry ingredients and fold though.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.


About Food Daydreaming

I follow new recipes perfectly the first couple of times and then I pull them apart and put them back together my way. My biggest pet peeve is when I follow a recipe to a tee and then it doesn't turn out the way it should... I end up growling in my kitchen and that's just not right ;)

29 responses to “Lemon-Scented Anzac Biscuits

  1. Hello there, E. How are you doing with the co-hosting? I am glad you brought these cookies as I was not able to eat cookies for days. I hope you have enough for this week’s party. 🙂 Enjoy! Happy FF. xx

  2. Wow, I loved reading about your post and the history behind these biscuits. This might be a silly question, but what is Golden Syrup?

    • Lori: golden syrup is a form of liquid sugar. It’s one step in the process of turning cane into white, crystalline sugar. I’ve read that you could use honey instead, but a mix of treacle and honey might be closer. it’s really, really sweet, but it still has that caramelised molasses/treacle taste. (Wikipedia says it’s also called light treacle, but I’ve never heard that.)

    • Thanks Lori! And yep, golden syrup was a by product of turning cane sugar to white sugar. It is very, very sweet but lacks that treacle aftertaste, so it’s much closer to molasses. Its sweetness is tempered when baked so it gives baked goods a beautiful caramelish flavour.

  3. That is such an interesting story behind the biscuits, Effie. I would never have known you could substitute syrup for eggs. Lemon zest sounds like a great addition to me. Thanks for sharing the recipe and background!

  4. Thank you for all the interesting history behind the Anzac! I’ve been curious about them since I saw them in the Great Australian Bake Off but I’ve never eaten one … Hmmm… I should make some shouldn’t I? 🙂 Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  5. And thanks for co-hosting Fiesta Friday!!! 🙂

  6. I love the recipe, but did you know the Aussie government protects the Anzac name? Apparently we can’t ever call them cookies (that’s not an Aussie word), and they must follow the original recipe, which means …. no lemon peel … even if it does improve the flavour! I only found this out last year when I put our own family Anzac recipe up and found it wasn’t quite right.

    • Yep, I’ve heard this. Didn’t matter to me though as these lemon-scented Anzac biscuits were created by Maggie Beer who does awe-inspiring work with Camp Gallipoli. Even back then, each family made them differently, changing the ratios to their own preferences and they are all correct because they are Anzac biscuits in spirit. You should try these, they are fantastic!

  7. I didn’t realise that was the story behind Anzac biscuits, but I guess it makes perfect sense. They certainly look tasty!

  8. Love these Anzac biscuits, I saw another post on Anzac biscuits only this week. Thanks for the history lesson, it’s always good to get a bit of background on a recipe 🙂 Thanks too for co-hosting. 🙂

  9. Loved the bake off chalkenge and history lesson on these biscuits Effie. My vote would have been with the lemon zest too!

  10. I agree that you definitely won this cook off! These biscuits look delicious and I could demolish a few myself! Thank you for co-hosting!

  11. I love love love ANZAC cookies!! I miss eating them! I love what they stand for, even if the Aussie version has now been deemed better than the NZ version! 😀 (We still call dibs on Pavlovas!)
    The twist with the Lemon is genius! The fragrance and flavour must be fantastic! Can’t wait to give this a go 🙂

  12. Wow, these look delicious! I love learning about it too 🙂

  13. That’s way we all love cookies!!! Interesting story behind an amazing recipe! thanks a lot!

  14. What a fab story and recipe! I made my Year 8 class watch ‘Gallipoli’ a few weeks back, but that’s about as much as I knew about it. Your biscuits were a real revelation 🙂
    Thanks for co-hosting Fiesta Friday and for stopping by – we’ve been so busy that I haven’t been anywhere near the party 😦

  15. These cookies looks delicious! Thank you for sharing the story! Thanks for co-hosting as well!!!

  16. We’re from the States but are currently living in New Zealand. I loved learning the history behind these cookies and attempted making my own for ANZAC day as well. I was surprised at how tasty they were! I bet the hint of lemon would be delicious, I’ll have to give it a try next time!

  17. I bet this lemon twist is excellent! The milk with the straw, though? It really sells it home!

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