Category Archives: oatmeal

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…

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

Oatmeal struan

Oatmeal Struan

Flour, water, yeast, and salt. At first glance, bread doesn’t have much going for it. Four little ingredients, two of which are at best temperamental, and at worst, capable of rendering breakfast as tasteless as a brick-shaped cardboard cutout. But oh, if you learn how to coax the best out of this little quartet, you may find that nothing else is quite as satisfying as a freshly-baked loaf of bread…

Of course, the learning process isn’t exactly instantaneous. Nor is it easy to describe once making your favorite loaf becomes routine, as I recently realized when a friend asked me what all these steps were for. What’s the point of throwing around terms like soaker, biga, and all the rest, without even bothering to explain what they are exactly, and why anyone should bother with them in the first place?

And so, this is the first of several posts that will be aimed at trying to answer those very questions. For the first post, I’m going to start with a struan formula from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads book, with gives me a perfect opportunity to discuss soakers, starters, and the inherent challenges involved in baking with whole grains. It’s a hearty, wholesome, and fairly simple recipe, and I think it’s a pretty good place to start if you’re just starting to play with whole grains. Continue reading


Filed under baking, baking tips, bread, oatmeal