On April 25th, 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in an attempt to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey). The soldiers were met with resistance and what was meant to be an attempt to knock Turkey out of the war, became an eight month long campaign with thousands of casualties lost from both sides.
Every year on April 25th, Australians and New Zealanders remember the soldiers who have fallen in battle; not just in WWI, but all military operations. It is not a celebration of war, but a celebration of life and of those who sacrificed theirs for their country.
When I was young, my Pop would wake me up very early in the morning and take me to the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne for the Dawn Service. I remember being so tired in the car and looking out at the dark city and sparkling lights. When we arrived at the Shrine of Remembrance there were thousands of people waiting for the service to start. At that time in my life I’d never seen so many people in one place. Dawn services are held in towns all over the country at about 6am, as dawn was the original time of landing in Gallipoli. The services usually include laying of wreaths, a prayer, the playing on the Last Post and a 2-minute silence to remember all those who have fallen.
After the service in Melbourne, I remember walking back to our car with thousands of people walking with us, all there to remember someone they’ve lost and our brave soldiers. We’d grab a Gunfire Breakfast – usually consisting of beans, a sausage and some bread – from outside the Victoria Barracks before heading back home. It was a special day for my Pop and although I was always cold and tired, I still wanted to go every year.
Many services and parades are also held throughout the day, where ex-servicemen and women march, wearing their medals, to the local war memorial. This is a very important and emotional day for Australians and New Zealanders as we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corp
This year, Anzac Day services were held very differently. Due to COVID-19, the usual Dawn Services weren’t possible, however, Australians and New Zealanders came together at dawn and remembered their fallen anyway. Poppies were displayed on windows and fences, people left Anzac biscuits for others to take at their letter box and neighbours came together with a light for the fallen at a makeshift service at the end of their driveways. As an Australian living abroad seeing the videos and images of my country coming together, I am in awe of the Australian spirit, especially during such testing times.
The Anzac Biscuit
The well-known story of the Anzac biscuit is that wives and women’s groups at home were concerned the Anzac soldiers weren’t eating very well. So, they whipped up some biscuits that would last the long journey, wouldn’t spoil and were hearty enough to fill the soldiers up. Oat-filled Anzac biscuits, or “Soldiers biscuits” as they were originally known, became popular in Australia. However, I recently read a story that said there isn’t much evidence that these biscuits were sent to the troops. Yes, some did receive biscuits with oats in them, but they weren’t the delicious, chewy biscuits we know today and they weren’t widespread among the almost 300,000 soldiers fighting there.
This story claims that the Anzac biscuits made history at home in Australia and New Zealand as they were sold at fetes, fairs and parades to raise money for the war effort. The use of golden syrup as a binder instead of eggs wasn’t so they could travel the long journey from home to the front, but because eggs were so scarce during war times.
Whatever the true story, these biscuits are a staple in Australian and New Zealand homes. They’re deliciously chewy, full of oats and coconut, and not too sweet. While recipes may vary, the staple oats, coconut and syrup are almost always present. It is an Anzac Day tradition to make and eat Anzac biscuits. If you’d like to make your own, check out the recipe below.
- 1 cup Plain flour
- 1 cup Rolled oats
- 1 cup Desiccated coconut
- 100 g Brown sugar about 1/2 cup firmly packed
- 55 g Caster sugar
- 125 g Butter
- 2 tbsp Golden syrup
- 2 tbsp Water
- 1/2 tsp Bicarb soda
- Preheat your oven to 160C | 320F (fan) and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
- Mix together 1 cup each of oats, flour and coconut, 100g brown sugar and 55g caster sugar.
- Stir 125g butter, 2 tbsp golden syrup and 2 tbsp water in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter has melted. When the mixture is smooth, add 1/2 tsp bicarb soda – the mixture will foam up.
- Add the oat mixture and stir until combined.
- Depending on how you like your Anzac biscuits, roll level (for flatter biscuits) or heaped (for fuller biscuits) tablespoons of the combined mixture into balls and place about 5cm apart on the baking trays. The mixture may seem too dry and like you should add more water. It’s fine. Press the mixture together into tight balls and they’ll hold together just fine. Press down slightly without crumbling the biscuits so they have a nice, flat top.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Swap the trays halfway through the bake to get them nice and even.
- Next, remove the biscuits from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
- Store in an airtight container. I don’t really know how long these will last but they were made to last… so you’ll probably eat them before they go bad, if they even can.
Did you make this recipe? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to see how yours turned out – use #holisticharmonie on Instagram or @holistic_harmonie so I can see your creations. Happy cooking!