“There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this county of ours”

Part of the inscription to the ‘heroes who lost their lives’ on the memorial erected by Atatürk at Anzac Cove

Like the oatcakes of my previous post, the slow digestion of the oats in these biscuits would have made them popular with soldiers on active service needing to sustain their energy. In this case we’re talking of the Australian and New Zealand soldiers in the first military action they fought in the First World War at Gallipoli (ANZAC is an acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). Unfortunately the truth (found at the National Army Museum) is rather more mundane, most of the biscuits were sold at fêtes held to raise money for the war effort. The biscuits are still popular, and in particular are often eaten in remembrance of their bravery on Anzac day (today, 25 April) the centenary of the initiation of this campaign. I flew to Istanbul a few days before, and sitting behind me on the plane was a group of xenophobic journalists. It was all about the allies and their boisterous bigotry as they swarmed out onto Turkish territory began to make me feel uncomfortable. As Oliver Hawkins comments in a letter to The Times, Atatürk’s memorial “is surely one of the most gracious gestures of reconciliation of modern times”.

There’s a song about the Gallipoli, or the Dardanelles, campaign as it was also known by the Fureys and Davey Arthur. And there’s also an excellent film about two Australian sprinters who are sent to fight in the campaign. See clip below (apologies for the quality). The soundtrack of the film includes the bitter-sweet adagio in g minor by Albinoni. Buy this album which also has some other lovely music on it to listen as you bake.

You can make a wonderful lemon, honey and camomile shoofly pie with an anzac biscuit crust – go to the excellent Twigg Studios blog to see how.

Makes about thirty

  • 140g/1 cup of plain flour
  • 200g/1 cup golden caster sugar
  • 80g/1 cup desiccated coconut (some recipes stipulate the same quantity of desiccated coconut as rolled oats, but whilst coconut has a nice bite-y texture and vanilla-y taste you don’t want to go over the top with it)
  • 200g/2 cups rolled oats
  • 125g/8 oz/ half a brick of butter
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda dissolved in an egg cup with boiled water
  1. Heat the oven to 180ºC
  2. Use silicon paper to line a couple of baking trays
  3. In a big mixing bowl mix the flour, sugar, coconut and oats
  4. Melt the butter and syrup in a small saucepan
  5. Make a dip in the middle of the dry ingredients
  6. Pour into it the butter, syrup and baking soda
  7. Roll into balls, press down on the baking trays allowing room for expansion between biscuits
  8. Bake for a maximum of a quarter of an hour – they should be golden but not firm as they harden as they cool and you want them to remain a little moist and gooey
  9. Cool on wire racks
anzac biscuit recipe

You don’t want to go overboard with the coconut…