Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Chewy or Crispy?

The army biscuit, also known as an Anzac wafer or Anzac tile, is essentially a long shelf-life, hard tack biscuit, eaten as a substitute for bread. Unlike bread, though, the biscuits are very, very hard. Some soldiers preferred to grind them up and eat as porridge.
Anzac biscuit recipe from Carole Moore’s family recipe notebook.
Photo courtesy Allison Reynolds

Culinary historian Allison Reynolds has been trawling through old recipe books trying to discover the origins of this famous Australian snack.
The first version of this rolled-oat based biscuit reportedly appeared around 1823, and over the next century took on various names such as 'surprise biscuits' and 'crispies'.
The ingredients they used were rolled oats, sugar, plain flour, coconut, butter, golden syrup or treacle, bi-carbonate of soda and boiling water. All these items did not readily spoil. 

According to Reynolds the first published recipe for ANZAC biscuits was in 1917 in The War Chest Cookery Book (held in electronic format by the National Library of Australia). 

The majority of rolled oats based biscuits were in fact sold and consumed at fetes, galas, parades and other public events at home, to raise funds for the war effort. 
"Then around the early WWI years you started to see the name change to 'red cross biscuits' and 'soldiers biscuits'."
After the landing on Gallipoli, they were renamed ANZAC Biscuits.

A point of interest is the lack of eggs to bind the ANZAC biscuit mixture together. Because of the war, many of the poultry farmers had joined the services, thus eggs were scarce. The binding agent for the biscuits was golden syrup or treacle.

SO...Chewy or crispie?  How do you like yours?

The JCU Library holds some interesting articles relating to the ANZAC biscuit as well as some great books on ANZAC day and the soldiers at Gallipoli.

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