Original Anzac biscuit recipe
Anzac Day was absolutely freezing – and I hate the cold – but it was one of the nicest days ever because:
- I woke early to go to the dawn service (I have a love/hate relationship with early mornings – love it when I eventually get up to enjoy the sun rising, hate it when I’m snug and warm in bed and don’t want to leave);
- Came home and cooked poached eggs for breakfast (nothing can go wrong when you’ve started the day with perfectly cooked eggs!);
- Went for a beautiful walk along the river with my man and my dog. The scenery of damp, green grass against the dark waters which met grey skies reminded me of the images from Donna Hay’s cook book Seasons); and
- Made Anzac biscuits – a given on Anzac Day – but not just any Anzac biscuits… I’m certain that this was an original Anzac biscuit recipe!
Just before my grandmother died at the age of 86, she told me she thought part of the reason she’d lived so long was because she loved old things (“I guess I got to be so old because I love old things”, is what I think she said). Whether it was in jest or not, she certainly did have a love for old things; and that’s something I’m sure I’ve inherited. After she passed I collected all her old recipe books and among them was one dated 1917.
It was my dad’s, dad’s, mother’s (my great-grandmother’s) book of hand-written recipes from a period during the first world war. It’s filled with recipes such as “Mock German Cake”, “Belgian Yeast Cake”, “Bachelor’s Buttons”, and gooseberry jam. When I saw it I just couldn’t let it go! That was a few years ago now, but Anzac Day was the first day I’d cooked anything from it. It only occurred to me while I was at the dawn service that it might, just might, have an Anzac biscuit recipe.
Of course they wouldn’t have called them Anzac biscuits back then. What I found was a “whole wheat biscuit” recipe, whose ingredient list looked awefully familiar, but still absolutely different to what we now know as a standard Anzac biscuit recipe. Dare I share it? This (potentially) secret, generations-old family recipe…. Oh, why not! Note: this is written verbatum from the book.
Marjorie Gratwick’s Wheat Meal Biscuits (c1917)
1 cup plain flour
2 cups sugar
4 cups flaked oats
1 cup melted butter
1 small teaspoon of bicarbondate of soda
4 tablespoons of boiling water
2 tablespoons of treacle
Treacle, boiling water, soda to be mixed together until treacle is melted. Then mix with other ingredients and bake in moderate oven.
No need to over-complicate things back in those days!
If you try these, let me know what you think and how they compare to modern-day Anzac biscuit recipes!