Monday, January 19, 2009

94. Anzac Biscuits (p. 666)

A few weeks ago, when my wife was in the hospital with our new baby, I wanted to make something to bribe the nurses thank the nurses for all their hard work. I picked this recipe* because it looked good and pretty easy.

This recipe, like so many other traditional favorites, has a great story behind it. According to food lore, these biscuits (I refrain from calling them "cookies" for reasons that I will explain in a minute) are named for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), and were first made by Australian wives and mothers to send in care packages to their loved ones fighting overseas in World War I. The texture and ingredients in these biscuits are such that they could withstand the time and turbulence of overseas travel from Australia to the boys fighting at Gallipoli. This quality appealed to me since I wanted to make these treats a few days before we went to the hospital, and still have them be fresh. (Giving the nurses stale cookies, er biscuits, would have had the opposite of the intended effect.)

So, it is with some hesitation that I even use the name "Anzac Biscuits" in this post, since it appears that the Austrailian government is pretty protective of the Anzac name and frowns upon unauthorized use of the term. In 1994, recognizing that the name "Anzac Biscuit" has been in general use in Australia for many years, the government instituted a policy of approving most applications for the use of the term, so long as "the product generally conforms to the traditional recipe and shape, is not advertised in any way that would play on Australia's military heritage, and is not used in association with the word 'cookies,' with its non-Australian overtones." Chocolate-covered Anzac Biscuits, according to the Austrailian government's website, are apparently an abomination with "non-Austrailian overtones" and would not be approved, so don't even think about it.

To make these cookies, I combined some flour, rolled oats, sweetend flaked coconut and salt. Then I stirred together some baking soda and boiling water (watch it fizz!) and mixed that into some melted butter and Lyle's Golden Syrup. (No eggs ... they were scarce during WWI.) Then I combined the wet and dry ingredients. The Book says that the dough will be crumbly, and it is. I put packed tablespoons of the dough onto cookie sheets and baked until golden.

These biscuits are great! They are crisp without being hard. They are buttery and sweet with a nice salty note. The oats and coconut give them a great texture an substance. The nurses were thrilled when I brought these biscuits to the nurses' station on our second day at the hospital. My wife and son received excellent care, and were even discharged a day early. Did the cookies have anything to do with it? I'm sure they didn't hurt.

Date Cooked: December 27, 2008
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Rating: A

* The recipe in The Book is nothing at all like the one on Soybean margarine? Really? But The Book's recipe is very similar to this one from the Australian War Memorial website, and which supposedly comes from an ANZAC present at the Gallipoli landing.


SusanME said...

Bribing nurses with food is always a good thing. Bribing them with yummy cookies and coffee is heavenly:)

Liz C said...

I love ANZAC Biscuits! I've tried a couple of different recipes over the years. I finally had to stop making them because I couldn't stop eating them. But now I have to check out the War Memorial link.