History of the Anzac Biscuit

The annual Anzac Day march, which has been a tradition since the end of World War One, has been cancelled across Australia and New Zealand. However, many people will still commemorate the day by lighting a candle and standing out the front of their houses. A united tribute remembering those who fought proudly for their country. However, there is still one tradition that all Australians can still enjoy from the safety of their homes – the humble Anzac Biscuit.

On Anzac Day the long, continued tradition of making (or buying) and serving Anzac Biscuits continues strong.

Unlike the modern biscuit, the original was not sweet but plain and bitter. It was known as a hardtack biscuit or soldiers’ ration. Despite its plain taste, the hardtack biscuit was a nutritional substitute for bread. It did not spoil, but it was extremely hard.

In Gallipoli fresh food and water were hard to come by so the hardtack biscuit became popular. To eat them, soldiers would get creative. This included grating them and adding water to make a porridge or soaking them in water. For a dessert, the soldiers would bake them over the campfire then add jam to make tarts.

Anzac Biscuits were introduced by the wives and girlfriends of soldiers fighting at Gallipoli during World War One. They were concerned those soldiers were not getting enough nutritional food supplied by the army, navy or airforce.

The biscuits they sent over had to last at least two months; which included travel by ship and storage without refrigerators. This was where the introduction of rolled oats into the recipe was born. Rolled oats were used extensively in Scotland to combat cold weather and kept well for long periods.

Anzac biscuits were made from oats, sugar, plain flour, coconut, butter, golden syrup, bicarb soda and boiling water. These ingredients did not spoil easily, so they became the foundation of the Anzac biscuit.

To travel, the biscuits were packed in air tight tins so air would not get in to make them moist. The biscuits were well received by the soldiers in Gallipoli and the tradition continued on.

Today, there are many variations of the Anzac biscuit as each person adds their own unique twist. Sweet, bitter, chewy or crunchy; you can make them to your own taste. But what remains the same, is that Anzac Day continues to be celebrated across the country with Anzac biscuits.

Photos courtesy of Google Clip Art Gallery

To make your own Anzac Biscuits, the recipe is provided below courtesy of SBS Life Australia.

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