Buttery biscuits for Anzac Day

Buttery golden deliciousness

I’m a little bit tardy with this post, but I’ve been a bit lazy in the kitchen of late. Yesterday was Anzac Day, which is kind of like the Australian version of Veteran’s Day here, and since I will take any excuse I can get to make Anzac biscuits, I figured I’d share them with all of you, as well.

Mmm, golden

Anzac biscuits are kind of funny. They have a little bit of a mad scientist quirk, they’re “healthy” (because they’re made of oats, of course), and don’t call for eggs at all, which makes them a cinch to modify for vegans. During World War I, when these biscuits were first made, eggs were difficult to come by, so people had to find something else to bind their baked goods. It turns out that golden syrup does the trick. Golden syrup, for those of you who haven’t tried it, is sweet, buttery, golden (duh), and delicious cane syrup, and really should be in your kitchen if it isn’t already. It’s finally available in the international section of most supermarkets, so it really isn’t hard to find. I use it in a lot of my cookie recipes, just because the flavor is that much better.


The thing I can’t quite figure out about this (or any) Anzac biscuit recipe is the mad scientist bit I mentioned before. One key step involves dumping the baking soda in a bit of boiling water. When you do this, you get a tame little explosion of carbon dioxide, resulting from the interaction between the sodium bicarbonate and the hot water. As I understand it, this leaves you with sodium carbonate, which will once again break down into carbon dioxide and water provided you have sufficient heat (~1000°C, according to Wikipedia!). It seems like any further leavening really won’t happen in the oven. So what exactly is the point? Anyone have an idea? It seems to be fairly standard in any Anzac biscuit recipe I’ve come across…

Anzac Biscuits

Makes ~2-1/2 dozen.

This recipe is from The Gourmet Cookbook, which in turn credits the Lodge Country House, in Seppeltsfield, South Australia. The biscuits (not cookies!) are a bit crumbly, but after the first bite, you really won’t care. I promise you, these are that good.

  • 1 c. (4-1/2 oz.) all-purpose flour. I imagine you could use oat flour instead, though I haven’t tried it myself.
  • 1 c. rolled oats
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened flaked coconut. The original recipe calls for sweetened flaked coconut, but I think it’d be far too much with the extra sugar.
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1-1/4 sticks (10 T.) butter. If you want to make a vegan version, replace with Earth Balance.
  • 1 T. golden syrup
  • 1-1/2 t. baking soda
  • 2 T. boiling water

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Add oats, coconut, and sugar, and stir until the oats are evenly distributed throughout the dry mix.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, melt the butter in a microwave (or use a small saucepan on the stovetop), and then add the golden syrup. Stir until the golden syrup has dissolved into the butter.

Add the baking soda to the boiling water, and stir. Pour into the butter mix, stir, and then pour the butter mix into the dry mix. Stir until the dry mix is evenly moistened. Don’t expect the dough to stick together; this biscuit is quite crumbly.

On two or three parchment-lined baking sheets, distribute packed tablespoons of dough ~2 inches apart. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown.  When you take them out of the oven, they’re incredibly delicate (just touch one and see — it’ll recoil like a pillow under your finger). Give them five minutes to cool, and then transfer them carefully to a wire rack. They should harden as they cool.

You can keep these for about a week in an airtight container, but I really don’t think they’ll last that long.


Filed under Australia, baking, butter, coconut, cookies, dessert, golden syrup, oatmeal

4 responses to “Buttery biscuits for Anzac Day

  1. Interesting… I saw these on 101cookbooks the other day, but as cookies:

    Her’s have a little more butter and syrup but they look equally flat.

    RE the baking soda/water thing.. I wonder, without any acid, does that work? I’ve made a cake before that had boiling water, but it also had vinegar in it and that one rose wonderfully. I’ve made ginger cookies with boiling water, but I think the point there was to get the cookies to be soft and hydrated (not leavened). The trick with te carbon dioxide would be to have it release the gases while baking and not right when the water is added (it sounds like you saw some CO2 when you added the water).

    It’d be interesting to add a squeeze of lemon juice to the water and see if that does anything? Or, add the baking soda to the dough rather than the water (so that when the water hits it, any gases will be trapped in the dough)

    Either way, these look tasty : ) I’d had Heidi’s recipe bookmarked for a while, but I think I like your’s better! Less, butter, plus, her’s calls for orange blossom water (too fussy for my taste)

    Oooh, I just had a thought. After trying your delicious olive oil cookies – wonder how these would taste with olive oil substituted for the butter

  2. liz

    I remember seeing that recipe — it looks good, but I have an unreasonable prejudice against orange blossom water. Well, I just don’t like it, which explains why I have had a bottle sitting in my kitchen for ages now … Oh well. That and I think these are the only biscuits I really think should be crunchy, but then again, I haven’t had them any other way.

    Yah, you’re right — I saw CO2 when I added the water. I’m not sure about the baking soda / water thing, unless golden syrup happens to be acidic (like honey and molasses). The thing is, these cookies are flat, but when you bake them, they’re full of air bubbles (small ones). It may just be that it’s easier to speed up some part of the reaction rather than reduce the amount of baking soda quite a bit? Provided there is some hidden source of acid in the other ingredients. But you’re right — I should just experiment! I’m going to have to have a party if I do that, though, because I swear I ate ~10 of these cookies yesterday, and that was only one batch. 🙂

    Hmm… olive oil could be interesting, too. I’m not sure how it would play against the golden syrup, but it’d be worth a try!

  3. This is one item I didn’t make for this year Anzac day. =( But Yours look amazing..and that brand of golden syrup is so yummy. I like the crunch in this cookies. =)

  4. brooke

    I tried the oil instead of butter trick, it would be so handy if it tasted alright. First bite I new I loved butter.
    If you’re making Anzacs and you have enough butter in the fridge use it, its worth it

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