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A North American’s Anzac Biscuits (*or, My Ode to the Antipodes)

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve had an ongoing love affair with the antipodes.  Well, come to think of it, that would be a one-sided love affair, since I’ve never actually been there. But hey, that’s okay.  I’m accustomed to those; my entire adolescence was flush with unrequited love.

I’ve dreamt of visiting the Land Down Under since I was about 13.  When the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks finally made their way across the Atlantic, I was first in line to buy them (favorites include Biscuits and Slices, Vegetarian, and Chocolate titles).  I’ve read The Thorn Birds and Oscar and Lucinda; I dutifully watched the Crocodile Dundee movie and delighted over Babe; I was a devoted fan of the Dame Edna show and ran out to buy the first Crowded House CD to hit our airwaves (though I never became a fan of Kylie Minogue). I adore the whole lot of Australian thespians: Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts, Geoffrey Rush, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, and of course Nicole Kidman (I mean, how could you not?  She’s just so NOT Julia Roberts). 

Age and years didn’t dampen my ardor, either. While studying for my PhD, I had a searing crush on a fellow student, Charlie Ferrall (I know! Can you believe his name is a homophone for “feral”??), whose Australian accent, the same one my friend Sterlin and I tried to imitate and had decided was the most incredibly sexy sound on earth, was his natural way of speaking. (Hey, Charlie, if you’re reading, G’day! How ya doin’, mate? Ever get that dissertation finished?). 

anzactower3.jpg Then, several years ago, I managed to arrange a teaching exchange with a college professor in Melbourne.  Yippee–an entire year of Living the Dream! The arrangement had us trading jobs while still technically employed by our “home institutions”–perfect for me, considering that the Canadian dollar was worth more than the Australian dollar at the time. We got as far as the final stages of the exchange–down to specific dates, meeting places, and a steamer trunk purchase–before the other woman backed out at the last moment. 

“I’m so sorry to do this to you at such a late date,” she wrote in an email.  “But we looked into the rentals in Toronto, and simply can’t afford to live there.”  Apparently, Toronto has recently been dubbed “the New York of Canada,” and astronomical rents may be one reason why. In fact, if I remember correctly, that Australian teacher ended up in Manhattan.

In the end, all I had to cling to were my memories of my (one-sided) intercontinental romance, a bad imitation of an Australian accent, and yet another CD to sell on eBay. 

Well, I had been disappointed in love before, so I decided to stop whinging about it and just get on with it–no worries!  And since I’ve entered the blogging universe, I’ve come across several fabulous Australianauthored blogs, many of which have become bookmarked favorites, so I can at least pursue a vicarious existence across the Pacific.  If I couldn’t actually live there, I could cook as if I did.  After all, this Sheila can still bake, right? And that made me one happy little Vegemite (though I probably still wouldn’t eat the stuff; sorry).

I’d read about Anzac cookies several times over the years, and always wanted to give them a try.  A quick search on the internet turned up some interesting information. Apparently, the original cookies, baked for soldiers abroad during World War One, were created so that something nourishing (they contain whole oats) could be sent to the troops in Gallipoli without spoiling before they got there.  In order to accomplish that lofty goal, the biscuits had to be able to withstand a two month-long boat ride without refrigeration. The resulting biscuits were very dry, not very sweet, and baked within an inch of a career as Tony Soprano’s favorite footwear.   

Modern Anzac biscuits, I’ve discovered, have a bit more sugar in them than the traditional kind, but are still crispy biscuits made with only a few basic ingredients.  Every recipe I’ve seen calls for boiling water mixed with baking soda, which is then poured into the cooked sweeteners.  All the cookies contain flour, oats, and coconut, but no eggs (or salt or vanilla), so they’re naturally suited to vegans, too.  My HH adores coconut, so it was a fair bet he’d like them. 

I decided to play with the traditional recipe somewhat and add the missing salt and vanilla.  I also used a combination of brown rice syrup (to duplicate the golden syrup of the original) and Sucanat for a little more sweetness.  And, of course, I baked them a little less than the traditional kind, as I am fond of my teeth and would like to keep them. The result was a spiffy little biscuit–and that’s no skite.

Well, enough yabbering.  Time for the recipe.  You reckon?

(“Mum, you know we love you and everything, but sometimes, you can be such a whacker.”)

Anzac Biscuits (original recipe from Kitchen Classics’ Sweet and Savoury Bites, edited by Jane Price )


[Note:  mine really did turn out pretty yellow, though not quite as Day-Glo as in this photo.  I think it had something to do with the combination of brown rice syrup and being north of the equator.]

125 g. (1 cup) all purpose flour (I used spelt)

140 g. (2/3 cup) sugar (I used Sucanat)

100 g. (1 cup) rolled oats

90 g. (1 cup) dessicated coconut

125 g. (4-1/2 oz.) unsalted butter (I used coconut butter)

90 g. (1/4 cup) golden syrup or dark corn syrup (I used brown rice syrup)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 Tbsp. boiling water

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar, oats, and coconut and make a well in the centre. Put the butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan and stir over low hear until the butter has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat.

 Dissolve the soda in the boiling water and add immediately to the butter mixture. It will foam up instantly. Pour into the well int he dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Drop level tablespoons of mixture onto the cookie sheets, allowing room for spreading. Gently flatten each biscuit with your fingertips.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until just browned. Leave on the tray to cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.


17 comments to A North American’s Anzac Biscuits (*or, My Ode to the Antipodes)

  • oooh, those biscuits!! such a delicious ode :0)

    saw your comment on my blog – yes, baking is MUCH more fun than doing work, any day of the week ;0)


  • Sensational. You know, the Canadian/Australian connection is a particularly interesting one. I dream of Canada in the same way that you dream of visiting us…

    Delicious version – I always make some on Australia Day but forgot this year. Can’t think why. By the way, Russell Crowe? I believe he was born in New Zealand…or so we like to think. He He!!!


  • VeggieGirl,

    Thanks! Here’s to more hours in the kitchen 😉 .


    What?? You mean Russell has been lying to us all these years about his heritage??!! Well, I’ll forgive him only because (a) he’s still antipodean, so it’s close, at least; and (b) well, LOOK at him. I’ve replaced him with Hugh Jackman, if that’s okay, as he’s another favorite I forgot to mention.

    I agree about the Canada/Australia thing (that historical connection as subjects of the Brits, I guess). If you ever make it over here, dinner’s on me!


  • Now Hugh Jackman…there’s a man to fall head over heels with. Likewise – dinner, should you find yourself in Melbourne, is on me!


  • Ricki, your Anzac biscuits look grand. How lovely to hear you’re a fan of Australia. While Rusty may originally be from New Zealand we do have a national habit of claiming famous kiwis as our own!


  • Lucy,

    You’re on. Let’s hope we both make it over (though not at the same time, as that would negate the joint dinners, I think!)


    Thanks for your comment! I say go ahead and claim them–we’ll never tell over here (sort of like when Canadians travel to Europe and are always mistaken for Americans, I’d guess) ;).


  • Love this post (or should I say bonza post, mate!!!) So funny to see my own culture through someone else’s lense! You are right about so much, except a sexy accent is taking it a bit too far (fair suck of the sauce bottle!)

    I actually am not a big fan of anzac biscuits because my mum made them all the time and I got bored of them. I don’t think anyone in Australia likes toothbreaking anzacs. Your version looks interesting but I am sad you left out the golden syrup – the smell of melting butter mixed with golden syrup is such an evocative childhood smell for me – but I get the impression it is not common in America like in Australia and UK.

    Oh, I love Hugh Jackman but the kiwis are welcome to rusty!


  • Johanna,
    Thanks, it was sooo much fun to write it! I can recall my Aussie crush using many of these expressions, and some of them (reckon, yabbering) are used sometimes here, too, just not often. And some people find French accents sexy, so I’m just a little different (what can I say?).

    In the past, I have looked about for golden syrup and the closest I could find is corn syrup, of which I am not terribly fond.

    Oh, and I see that Mr. Crowe has been holding out on me–from now on, he’s Rusty, all the way 😉 .


  • Johanna,
    Thanks, it was sooo much fun to write it! I can recall my Aussie crush using many of these expressions, and some of them (reckon, yabbering) are used sometimes here, too, just not often. And some people find French accents sexy, so I’m just a little different (what can I say?).

    In the past, I have looked about for golden syrup and the closest I could find is corn syrup, of which I am not terribly fond.

    Oh, and I see that Mr. Crowe has been holding out on me–from now on, he’s Rusty, all the way 😉 .


  • These look wonderful. I’m quite certain I would really enjoy these. Thanks for sharing!


  • […] coconut before adding them to the batter. (see here) Less sugar? 2/3 c instead of full cup. (see here) Brown sugar or half brown sugar/half white sugar instead of all white. (see here) Double the […]

  • Brooke

    I can’t wait to make these today!

    I am a Canadian in Australia, and if it makes you feel any better, you aren’t missing much. Sorry Aussies! Us Canadians think it is paradise here, but well, it isn’t. Of course, I do live in Perth…I have been here five very long years and am now moving the family back to Toronto.


  • Of course I’m interested! I love that you used coconut butter, though I wonder if these taste noticeably different to “standard” Anzacs because of the sub for golden syrup? If only I had time to to a taste comparison… 😉


    Ricki Reply:

    I’ve never tasted “true” Anzacs, so I had no point of comparison. I thought you might find all my wobbly Aussie references fun to read, though! 😉


    Hannah Reply:

    Absolutely! I can’t wait until you do visit and we can have a good ole chin-wag and natter (I’m not much for yabbering myself 😛 )

    Also, I’ve never ever watched any of Crocodile Dundees… *shudder*


  • […] the charming accent of the locals, to the stellar weather, to some of my favorite actors, to the amazing food, that country resonates with me on a deep level, and I know I’ll make it there some day. In the […]

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