Crispy lacy Anzac biscuits
Yesterday was ANZAC Day in Australia. This is when the country commemorates the crushing WW1 Gallipoli battle and more broadly the sacrifice made by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during the past and present wars.
Every year, people will gather in the early hours of the morning, to attend the dawn service remembering the fallen. Except this year was different: gatherings are banned so most people were standing in their driveway, lighting candles to the sound of a live stream playing the Last Post. I was lucky to wake up early enough and witness the most beautiful dawn from our rooftop, while indeed, someone out there played the mournful tune.
Then, I set out to bake ANZAC biscuits, as I do every year. These are iconic pieces of of Australian food heritage, along with pavlova and lamingtons. The key features are that they contain oats, coconuts and are eggless. The story goes that these biscuits were originally sent as part of care packages to the the troops in WW1, on the basis that they would survive the long journey.
Yesterday’s biscuits happened by accident.
Everyone I know has a favourite recipe, and I have used the same recipe from AWW over the years with great success. For some reason, I decided to try something different yesterday, inspired by a post from Not Quite Nigella. Her recipe is a different version ( using less coconut, more butter…which she browns to make it uniquely nutty !) that I wanted to try.
Then I decided to make a few adjustments of my own, starting by using less flour ( because in isolation, I am in rationing mode for some items, obviously ). I made up for it, adding more oats and coconut and leaving the quantities of wet ingredients unchanged. I was not really thinking how it would affect the whole mixture, until I combined the lot and ended up with a rather wet mix. Leaving it to cool in the fridge helped firm it before shaping it in clusters on the baking tray.
When it came to oven temperature, the difference between crunchy and chewy sits within 20C ( 180C and 160C respectively ). Distracted-me decided to preheat the oven by cranking it up to 220C ( it was 6.30am, the kitchen was cool and I wasn’t quite awake yet ) and completely forgot to turn the temp down afterwards. It wasn’t until Mr T walked in half way thru the cooking process, saying “something smells really nice and caramely in here!” that I took a horrified look thru the oven door: the clusters had spread and merged together, forming a large sheet of bubbling chunky caramel. I quickly reduced the heat to next to nothing, watching the trays like a hawk for another 5 minutes wanting the mixture to cook thru a bit longer but dreading it would burn.
Indeed, some of the edges did burn, but that was easily fixed by cutting them off.
And the result? Because of the reduced quantity of flour to hold the biscuits together, these ended up quite crispy and lacy, they looked like a sweet version of Bak Kwa ( the pork jerky from Singapore ) but tasted similar to brandy snaps ( thank goodness for that !)
I cut them into rectangles and packed some into cute boxes with a spring of rosemary ( another ANZAC symbol of remembrance ) to hand over to the family.
Because of isolation rules, Rosalie had to cancel her long planned traditional gathering of family and friends that day. However that didn’t stop Mr T and I from walking over and drop off these little morsels of sweet delight, figuring we’d also take care of our daily exercise ( in Australia, this is a reasonable excuse to leave the house during confinement). By the time we returned home, after completing our 7 kilometers delivery walk, my phone was lit up with texts about how delicious the biscuits were. And thankfully, some were left for us to enjoy with our afternoon tea. The perfect sugar hit !
Crunchy Lacy Anzac Biscuits
1/2 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cup traditional rolled oats ( not the quick ones )
1 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
1/2 tsp salt
135 g butter, melted
- Pre heat oven to 220C
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, dessicated coconut, and brown sugar. Mix well.
- In a separate bowl, combine the hot water, golden syrup, vanilla, bi carb, salt and melted butter. Stir well.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix to combine.
- Scoop a teaspoon of the mixture and place on parchment lined trays ( about 8 per trays ), making sure you leave enough space between them as they will spread
- Bake at 220C for 7 minutes, then turn the heat down to 140C and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Take out of the oven and make cutting indentations while the biscuits is still soft ( I use a pizza cutter but a long sharp knife will do ). Let cool on the tray for 10 minutes, the biscuits will firm up while cooling.
- When cool enough to handle, break off the biscuits and leave to harden on a wire tray.
- These are best eaten on the same day, but will keep firm in an airtight container for a few days ( if they last that long!)