According to one source, the army biscuit, also known as an Anzac wafer or Anzac tile, is essentially a long shelf-life, hard tack biscuit, eaten as a substitute for bread. Unlike bread, though, the biscuits are very, very hard. Some soldiers preferred to grind them up and eat as porridge.
Another source tells me the Anzac Biscuit may have originated in Dunedin, New Zealand. In Australia, the biscuits were baked by volunteers and packed in Billy Tea cans to be sent to soldiers during WWI. The traditional recipe includes oats, golden syrup and (usually) coconut, but no eggs, which were scarce in wartime and would affect the keeping qualities.
An earlier hand-written recipe for a version which does not include coconut has been discovered. It was written down in a notebook by Carolyn Warner between 1912 and 1920. Research by Sian Supski of the Australia Research Institute at the Curtin University of Technology has shown that recipes began to appear in Australian cook books in the early 1920s, originally under the name of Anzac Crisps.
The version I baked today was from Taste and called ‘Chewy Anzac biscuits’ and it turned out pretty good. If you want to try it for a teatime snack, it really is quick and easy to make.
1 cup (150g) plain flour
1 cup (90g) rolled oats
1 cup (85g) desiccated coconut
3/4 cup (165g) brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons water
Preheat the oven to 160°C or 140C fan-forced. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Stir in the oats, coconut and brown sugar.
Put the butter, golden syrup and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan. Stir over a medium heat until melted. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda.
Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.
Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Place on the trays, about 5cm apart.
Press with a fork to flatten slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Set aside on the trays for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack so it cools completely.