Monday, June 16, 2014

Anzac Biscuits {Fuss-free Baking}

Baking is one of my greatest pleasures, and for the most part, I've been fortunate to be able to indulge that passion with all the necessary equipment and gadgets it calls for. But that hasn't always been the case. I lived in London a few years ago, and while it was a great experience overall, it also required a few compromises, baking-wise. As our stay there hinged entirely on my husband's work, I was reluctant to make any pricey investments in baking equipment, knowing we could have to pack and leave any time.

That's when I began searching out recipes that were simpler and easy to put together, without the need for special mixing equipment. Even today, when I'm blessed with a better-equipped kitchen, there is a different kind of satisfaction when I find simple, easy-to-mix recipes that turn out well. And that is why I'm introducing a new series: Fuss-free Baking!

Maybe you're an occasional baker or someone just starting out, maybe you have certain constraints like I did. Or maybe you're just tired or rushed for time and want to whip up something quickly without dragging out the mixer. Recipes that are labelled Fuss-free Baking will be easily mixable by hand and have fewer ingredients. You will still need 1-2 baking trays and either a scale or measuring cup to measure ingredients, but at least the need for mixing equipment can be avoided.

Anzac Biscuits

I'm starting off with a biscuit recipe that I first heard of only after moving to Australia. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Wikipedia traces the origins of this biscuit back to World War I when it was a favourite of army wives to send for their husbands due to its long shelf life. After having made it in school recently, my daughter asked me to make some at home as she found them very yummy. Since it is a classic Aussie recipe, I turned to an Aussie culinary icon for guidance. Here it is:

Anzac Biscuit Recipe (adapted from Donna Hay)

Yield: approx 3 dozen biscuits.

2 cups (180g) rolled oats
1 cup (150g) plain (all-purpose) flour (I used 1/2 cup plain and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
⅔ cup (150g) caster (superfine) sugar
¾ cup (60g) desiccated coconut
⅓ cup (115g) golden syrup
125g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons hot water 

1. Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F). Mix the oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a bowl. 
2. Cook the golden syrup and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring, until melted. 
3. Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the water and add to the butter mixture. It will fizz. Take off the heat and pour into the oat mixture and mix well to combine. 
4. Drop tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto baking trays lined with baking / parchment paper and flatten to 7cm rounds, allowing room to spread. 
5. Bake for 8–10 minutes or until deep golden. 
6. Allow to cool on baking trays for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. The 5-minute rest time is essential as the biscuits will still be soft on coming out of the oven, and only firm up as they cool.


Anzac Biscuits

The cooked butter and syrup give this biscuit a mild butterscotch flavour. You may also have noticed that Anzac biscuits are eggless; that is one of the reasons they keep so well. The baking time is up to you and what type of biscuit you prefer: you can see the difference in colour where one batch baked for 10 minutes leading to a darker, crunchier biscuit, and another I baked for just 8 minutes, making a chewier one. I personally prefer the crunchy ones that have a nice snap when you bite into them. I also love the way the oats stand out against the darker biscuits.

I hope I've given you enough reason to try making these biscuits. If you like something with a dash of chocolate, you can try these equally fuss-free chocolate chip cookies.