Sarah McInerney April 25, 2012
Golden delicious ... Merle Parrish's Anzac biscuits.
Fire up the oven, and get the biscuits on - it's Anzac day.
Sure there are some very nice commercially made Anzac bikkies out there, but nothing beats eating them fresh out of the oven. Plus they're an easy biscuit to make and a nice way to commemorate the day.
Merle Parrish has been making Anzac biscuits since she was seven-years-old - they were her first attempt at baking and the first item she ever entered in a show (and she won first prize for it!).
"I think that started it off, I've been very enthusiastic about entering shows and I've been judging for 30 years too," she said.
The 79-year-old put out her first cookbook this year, Merle's Kitchen, which includes a recipe for the biscuits as well as the peach blossom cake that catapaulted her into the limelight when she appeared on Masterchef last year.
Parrish's recipe differs from the traditional version of the Anzac biscuit with the addition of ground ginger. Another recipe she had published in Blue Ribbon Recipes includes vanilla essence.
"It gives it just a little bit of flavour, you can leave that out if you want," she said of her additions.
She described her recipe as fairly simple to make, but did have some pointers to share about the use of golden syrup.
"If you put too much golden syrup in it makes them soft not crisp, but some people like them soft, others like them crisp," she said.
It can also impact on cooking time.
"You've got to be careful when they're almost cooked, because of the golden syrup in the biscuits they have a tendency to burn and they're not terribly nice when they're burnt," she said.
The biscuits will spread when cooking, so Parrish says to give them a wide berth of each other on the tray. Her recipe calls for heaped teaspoons, which make smaller biscuits, but larger ones are fine. Just be sure to still give them space on the tray.
"It's a matter of your own choice," she said.
Merle Parrish's Anzac biscuit recipe
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 6-7 mins per batch
1 cup plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup white sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp boiling water
1 tsp bicarb soda
160g butter, melted
1 Preheat oven to moderate (170C) and grease two large baking trays.
2 Sift the flour and ground ginger into a mixing bowl, and add the oats, coconut and sugar. Make a well in the centre.
3 Stir the golden syrup, boiling water and bicarb in a small bowl until combined. Add to the dry ingredients, along with the melted butter. Mix well.
4 Take heaped teaspoons of mixture and roll into balls. Place onto trays, and flatten gently. Bake for 6–7 minutes, until lightly golden.
5 Cool on the trays for 10 minutes, until they firm up slightly, then lift onto wire racks to cool completely.
From Merle’s Kitchen, published by Ebury Press, $39.95.
Road testing the biscuits
You know a biscuit is going to be delicious when the mixture is so good you have to stop yourself from eating it. These biscuits are easy to make and delicious to eat. I even had a friend polish off four with one cup of tea!
I ended up making 30 biscuits, not the 45 stipulated in the recipe, because I was a bit adhoc with my heaped teaspoons. I also didn't give them enough space on the tray so they all ran in together. This wasn't really a problem, they were easy enough to break or cut away from each other but they certainly didn't look like those in the recipe!
The only other thing I'd be careful of next time is the cooking time. Parrish's warning is a good one. I baked mine for the stated seven minutes then popped them back in for another two minutes because they weren't quite done (presumably because they were larger than the recipe intended). That was probably one minute too long as they then went to the dark side of golden. I was worried it would affect the taste but they were still delicious. Nice and chewy too.
Parrish says the biscuits can keep for a week in an airtight tin the cupboard - not that she's managed to keep any for that long, they're a bit of a family favourite.
I made mine on Sunday and went to bring some in today for my morning tea, being Anzac day, but alas, the hungry hordes had polished mine off too!
Do you have a favourite Anzac biscuit recipe you'd like to share? Or another way to use this traditional Aussie recipe? A friend of one of my colleagues turned an overly crumbly biscuit mixture into an Anzac biscuit slice by pushing it into a greased slice tin, covering it with melted chocolate and baking it for twice as long as the biscuits. Yum!