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A Brief History of the Anzac Biscuit

by Bethany (follow)
Australia (7)      Dishes (15)      Occasions (14)      Articles (69)      ANZAC Day (1)     
2015 marks one hundred years since the original ANZACs fought in Gallipoli during World War One, and the first time both Australia and New Zealand fought under their own respective national flags on a global stage. ANZAC Day is held on the 25 April every year to mark the date the Anzacs first landed on the shores of Gallipoli.

As the name suggests, Anzac biscuits are closely associated with the ANZACs, and have been a part of its history from the beginning.

By pfctdayelise, via Wikimedia Commons

An Anzac biscuit is a crunchy biscuit made of rolled oats, flour, shredded coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda, and boiling water. They originated from an earlier, savoury version, known as the Anzac tile or wafer, which were given to soldiers as rations during the war. The current sweet version, as we know it, first appeared in cookbooks during the 1920s, referred to as “crisps” or “crispies”, but all bearing the name Anzac.

The ingredients were chosen because they do not spoil quickly. Due to food shortages, eggs were not readily available, so butter, treacle (now golden syrup), and baking soda were used as the leavening agent instead. These formed a very hard biscuit that was often difficult to eat, but kept for a very long time without spoiling.

Four artillery drivers stopped for lunch - from awm.gov.au

According to the Australian War Memorial, soldiers would devise ways of softening the Anzac wafers to make them easier to eat. These included making a porridge by grating the biscuit and adding boiling water, or soaked in water and smeared with jam, then baked into a sort of “jam tart”. They were also used in various creative ventures, such as for painting, or as cards to send back home.

It is important to note that the term “Anzac” is not lightly used. It is protected under Australian and New Zealand Federal law, and can only be used with permission from the government. Biscuits that are sold as “Anzac biscuits” must be faithful to the original recipe, and cannot be referred to as “cookies”.

Why not try making your own Anzac biscuits this year? Check out this deliciously simple True Blue Anzac Biscuit recipe.

True Blue Anzac Biscuits - Lucy, recipeyum

One hundred years on, we as a nation celebrate the bravery of the ANZACs with memorial services and ceremonies across the country. Families and friends come together to pay their respects for the fallen with a minute of silence. So what other ways are there to commemorate this historic day?

Why not start your day with a Gunfire Breakfast? It is a British cocktail of whisky-laced black tea, although the ANZACs used black coffee instead. This was given to soldiers before a morning attack. All you have to do is stir a shot of rum into a cup of tea or coffee — so not one for the kiddies, unfortunately — a perfect warm-up for the day ahead.

To add to the Australian favourites, why not make some Lamingtons? You can also add jam and whipped cream inside for a really delicious treat.


Pavlovas are yet another Australian favourite, one that is notoriously hard to get right. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Try your hand at this easy pavlova recipe, and top it off with a side of fresh fruit and berries.

Pavlova topped with blueberries, grapes, and kiwifruit - Finy, recipeyum.com.au

What are you planning on having this coming ANZAC Day? Share it with us here, or on the forum!

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