A few weeks ago I sent out the call to my office comrades challenging them to submit their favourite ANZAC biscuit recipe to ignite a ‘battle of the bikkies’. The challenge also gave us all a good excuse to get together and share an afternoon tea to mark this significant national day of remembrance. I received a number of entries copied out of family cookbooks that have been shared from generation to generation as well as some new fandangle versions with the addition of fancy fruits and seeds. One cheeky comrade submitted the top hit on Google (thank you NZ Woman’s Weekly) and tried to palm it off as a cherished piece of family history, well I have to admit Dave’s strategy turned out to be a fairly solid one as his biscuit claimed second place in the taste test.
There is a bit of conflict when it comes to which dry ingredients an ANZAC biscuit should or shouldn’t contain, but the history isn’t exactly clear. The essential and defining attribute of an ANZAC biscuit is the method whereby a hot fizzy mixture of melted fat, golden syrup and baking soda dissolved in boiling water is added to the dry ingredients to create the dough. This is an important step – by adding the mixture while it is fizzing you are ensuring the baking soda is still active which helps the biscuit form a lovely shape and develop the glowing golden brown exterior we associate with these little beauties. The other key to success is to roll the biscuits into balls then flatten well with your hands before arranging on a baking tray.
All up we baked about 250 biscuits in a morning (thanks to Becky who works with me in the cooking development lab for lending me a hand) then gathered a highly qualified group of colleagues to form the judging panel and got down to the tasting. The panels decision was unanimous and the supreme prize went to Ron who is one of our reliability technicians. Ron submitted his favourite recipe which he dug out of a well loved copy of the quintessential Aunt Daisy’s cookbook. Considering the age of the recipe and Aunt Daisy’s reputation I was suprised to find there are no oats included but instead a combination of wheatgerm and walnuts in addition to coconut. The recipe creates a biscuit which is crisp on the edges, just slightly chewy in the center and deliciously wholesome and nutty in flavour. For those who just can’t have an ANZAC without oats I trialed a version of this recipe with oats too. To make this version add 3/4 cup of rolled oats to the dry ingredients and increase the butter to 150g, the golden syrup to 2 tbsp and the water to 3 tbsp.