During World War I and World War II the women of Australia were kept busy baking so that they could send their offerings to soldiers far away from home and hearth.
Packed into Billy Tea tins in greaseproof paper to keep them as fresh as possible for as long as possible, all sorts of baked treats were sent off to the boys wherever they were posted, along with loving letters of encouragement. In this way women on the home front helped to keep, and indeed improve the morale of the troops.
After the war women in both the city and countryside continued to bake cakes and biscuits for their families, as fresh food shortages continued for a long time and they ‘filled you up’.
The ‘sweet’ Anzac biscuits we enjoy today should not be confused with that staple of soldiers’ and sailors’ rations for centuries, the hardtack biscuit. They were not really like Mum baked, but perhaps better than nothing.
They were so durable soldiers used them not just for food, but for other creative, non-culinary purposes. The texture and hardness of the biscuit meant they could write messages on them and send them to family, friends, and loved ones back home!
The biscuit we know now as the ‘Anzac’ biscuit gradually emerged, made from simple ‘lasting’ ingredients. They were tucked into lunch boxes and sold at school tuck shops all over the country. Crisp and crunchy kids loved them. My Nana and Mum certainly baked them for me.
1 cup each of plain flour, sugar, rolled oats, and coconut, 4 oz butter, 1 tbs treacle (golden syrup), 2 tbls boiling water, 1 tsp bicarbonate soda (add a little more water if mixture is too dry)
1. Grease biscuit tray and pre-heat oven to 180°C. 2. Combine dry ingredients. 3. Melt together butter and golden syrup. Combine water and bicarbonate soda, and add to butter mixture. 4. Mix butter mixture and dry ingredients. 5. Drop teaspoons of mixture onto tray, allowing room for spreading. 6. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on tray for a few minutes before transferring to cooling racks.
Today Anzac biscuits remind us of how hard our boys fought to secure freedom and liberty for all. They also help us to remember to be grateful for the wide brown land we live in that is Australia. The Anzac Biscuit has become an iconic Lest We Forget symbol, one of patriotism, pride, sacrifice and love.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017