The history of Anzac biscuits – do you know how they originated?
Anzac Day is a day of remembrance observed in Australia and New Zealand. It falls on the anniversary of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) landing at Gallipoli, Turkey, on April 25, 1915. Today, the 25th of April commemorates and honours all Australian and New Zealand servicemen and women, past and present, who have served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.
In both Australia and New Zealand people gather on April 25 for dawn services and marches, honouring the pre-dawn landing at Gallipoli. The ceremony includes traditions such as the Last Post (a military bugle call, signifying the end of the day’s activities), the laying of wreaths, and a reading of the Ode of Remembrance. Another tradition is the baking and eating of Anzac Biscuits.
What are Anzac Biscuits?
The traditional Anzac biscuit is usually a simple mixture of flour, oats, golden syrup or honey, desiccated coconut, sugar, butter, and bicarbonate of soda. Depending on the recipe used, they may be soft and chewy or crunchy and crisp to eat.
However, the original Anzac biscuit was a savoury version, known as the Anzac tile or wafer. The wafers were first given to the soldiers as rations during World War I.
Due to food shortages at the time, eggs were not readily available, so butter, treacle and baking soda were used as the leavening agent instead. This resulted in a hard biscuit that was very tough to eat, although it could be kept for months at a time. According to the Australian War Memorial, the soldiers would get creative in coming up with ways to make the wafers more palatable – be it adding water to grated biscuits to create a porridge or spreading them with jam. It was not until the 1920s that a far sweeter recipe – the one we know and love today – first started appearing in cookbooks.
What is the best recipe for Anzac biscuits?
The Anzac biscuit has been innovated over time by slight variations of the traditional recipe. A renowned culinary historian Allison Reynolds, after delving into a plethora of books, revealed the exact origin of this biscuit. Reynolds believes the biscuit was discovered before World War 1 with the first-ever version reported to have appeared in 1823.
Reynolds also states that the first-ever recipe of Anzac biscuits found was in an Australian publication named War Chest Cookery Book in 1917.
The term ‘Anzac’ is protected under Australian and New Zealand federal law, and as such, can only be used with permission from the government. This means that any products sold as ‘Anzac biscuits’ must be faithful to the traditional recipe.
AB’s Honey Anzac Biscuit Recipe with Honey
- 125gm unsalted butter
- 1/4cup AB’s Yellow Box Honey
- pinchsea salt
- 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2tbsp boiling water
- 1cup rolled oats
- 3/4cup desiccated coconut
- 1cup plain flour
- Preheat oven to 150ºC. Line baking trays with baking paper.
- In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and honey, stirring until the mixture starts to bubble. Add a pinch of salt.
- Mix bicarbonate of soda with boiling water and add to butter mixture.
- Mix remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Pour melted butter mixture into dry ingredients and mix well.
- Roll 1 teaspoon of mixture into a ball and place on a tray. Repeat with remaining mixture, allowing room for spreading.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Allow to cool on trays before transferring to a wire rack. Store in airtight container.
Click here to download our recipe card.
About Yellow Box Honey
Yellow Box Honey is one of the most popular honey varietals in Australia. It has a beautiful light amber colour, aromatic, with a mild distinctive flavour that is smooth and buttery on the tongue. Fairly sweet, it is dense and slow to crystallise. Yellow Box Honey is extremely popular with honey lovers not just in Australia but worldwide.
As a floral honey, Yellow Box Honey has a lower GI than other honeys (and certainly sugar) and this makes it a better alternative for diabetics and anyone having problems with blood sugar levels.
AB’s Honey is committed to the ongoing support of Australian Bees and our honey industry. By purchasing our honey, you are helping to support the Australian beekeepers we partner with throughout our country to produce 100% pure, raw and natural Australian honey including Manuka Honey and honey related products direct to your door.
Simply Honey, Simply the Best Honey in Australia.