Honey ANZAC Biscuits
Allow me please to introduce the lovely Carmen Brown, a.k.a Honey Delight. Carmen and I first met at the Capital Region Farmer's Market in August last year; and Peter and I have been enjoying her honey ever since.
Carmen is a third generation beekeeper, with an extensive farming heritage. Originally from north west NSW, Carmen's family were among the first farming settlers in the area. Carmen’s grandfather diversified into beekeeping in the 1920’s and the family continue the beekeeping tradition he started all those years ago. The family has over 3000 hives throughout NSW and southern QLD. Carmen’s interest in beekeeping has been lifelong and she and her husband, Todd, have hives in the Canberra area. You will find them and their honey at the Honey Delight stall at Canberra's Capital Region Farmer's Markets at EPIC every Saturday morning.
In this Good Things guest post, Carmen shares with us a yummy recipe for her family's award winning Honey ANZAC biscuits. The images are copyright and courtesy of Carmen and Todd Brown. Spend more time with Carmen at the Honey Delight web site. Now, over to you, Carmen...
Carmen says, 'Before we get into the recipe, lets take a moment to remember why ANZAC biscuits are a favourite for many people. The biscuits were originally known as soldiers’ biscuits and were remarkable because they would remain edible and nutritious for a long period of time. It was the hardiness of the ANZAC biscuit that led to their inclusion in parcels sent to soldiers serving overseas. Originally, the parcels were sent to soldiers serving in the First World War, and this is why the parcels were referred to as “care parcels”. They would include items such as handmade woollen socks, biscuits, candy, chocolate, and often an encouraging letter from the person who sent it .
In our family, the ANZAC biscuits had a caring element about them because when I was growing up, my mother and I often made them for the men in our family. They would pack the ANZAC biscuits into their “tucker box” as we say and eat them over a period of two or more days when out working the bees. Beekeeping often means the men are away for extended periods of time. The longest length of time the “men were away” was three weeks. These times occurred during our Winter, when our bees were moved to south western Queensland (SW QLD). The bees are moved into SW QLD for the winter because the Napunya Tree will often yield significant amounts of honey when little else is flowering. The ANZAC biscuit is still a favourite in our family. I recall one time I baked some for my brother for his birthday and sent them to him in the post. Needless to say, this biscuit keeps very well.
I have this recipe with me today because when I left home, I did the same thing my mother had done before me. I copied my mother’s recipes and took them with me. In the 1980s I cheated a little because I photocopied my mother's cook book. Fortunately for me, it means I have a copy of the original writing my Mum did in the 1960s. The recipe below is in the original form, as written by my mother, from her mother’s cook book.
I’ve translated the recipe below:
BLUE RIBBON ANZAC BISCUITS
¼ cup self raising flour
½ cup white sugar
½ cup desiccated coconut
1 ½ cups rolled oats
½ cup butter or margarine (60 grams)
1 teaspoon honey (for crunchy biscuits)
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons boiling water
A few tips before we get started: I cook on a tray, lined with baking paper, at 150 degrees C in a fan forced oven for 13-15 minutes, and I always preheat the oven. Ideally, this recipe requires two trays, but you can manage with just one. To be honest, I’m a lazy cook and when I use baking paper it means I don’t have to do so much washing up.
When I refer to rolled oats, I mean traditional oats, not quick oats or 1 minute oats. I always like to use Yellow Box honey with this recipe. Yellow Box honey is legendary for having the strongest aroma of all Australian honey. It gives the ANZAC biscuits an enchanting honey-delicious aroma during baking, cooling, serving and eating. The use of honey in this recipe contributes to the soft, moist texture. If you prefer ANZACs to be soft and chewy, use an extra teaspoon of honey. The most important step is to remember to let them cool on the biscuit tray…if you can stop your self or family from eating them. This is why we need two trays.
Let's start the baking: Place the oats, flour, coconut and sugar into a medium size mixing bowl and combine them together.
Melt the butter or margarine on the stove, or if you wanted to, you could also melt the margarine in the microwave. You need to do it on low and be mindful that the butter is covered with paper towel. I melt the butter first, because it takes a minute or two. If the honey is placed in with the butter or margarine, it would burn. When the butter or margarine has melted, and JUST started to boil, the honey is added, and gently warmed. I turn the heat off at this point, to make sure the honey doesn’t burn. After heating the honey and butter or margarine together, the honey should still be a light colour. We don’t want any burnt bits of butter or honey in the mixture and we don’t want the honey to boil.
The warm butter and honey mixture is added to the dry ingredients, and mixed in.
It is important to mix the butter and dry ingredients thoroughly before the next step.
The butter/honey and dry ingredients are placed to one side for the next step, where you mix the bicarb soda with boiling water. It is important to use boiling or near boiling water at this stage. Cold water doesn’t work. As I said, I’m a bit of a lazy cook, so I reuse utensils if I can. This means I do this step using the same saucepan I used to melt the butter. It saves on washing up and also makes sure I get all the honey and butter from the sides of the saucepan into the biscuit mixture.
Place the baking soda in the saucepan first, and then add the hot water. It will fizz for a moment, but you don’t have to rush to add it to the mixture while it is fizzing. I prefer to swirl it around and gather the remainder of the butter/margarine from the sides of the saucepan.
It is important to add the hot water to the mix before it cools too much, because it binds all the ingredients together. Add the water and baking soda as one amount to the other ingredients, and mix through thoroughly.
Now the mix is ready to transfer onto the baking tray. I use two soup spoons to place the mix onto the tray. Over time, I’ve found they are the perfect measure and make delightful round biscuit shapes. As I scoop the mixture into or onto the spoon, I drag it up the side of the bowl and press into the spoon. I also use the two spoons to place the mixture onto the tray.
When placing the biscuits onto the tray, leave some space around them because they will expand as they cook. Blue ribbon biscuits don’t touch each other. This is because when the biscuits touch each other they change shape and will also leave an unsightly mark on the edge of the biscuit. I generally aim for 12 biscuits per tray. Any leftover mixture will be OK to leave sitting at room temperature. Ideally, we would have two trays as we must leave the biscuits to cool on the tray after cooking. When making blue ribbon ANZAC biscuits, I recommend using only one tray in the oven at a time. It’s easier to manage the heat distribution in the oven that way.
Place the biscuits into a preheated oven (150 C fan forced), on the middle shelf, and bake for 13 to 15 minutes.
The most important step is to let the biscuits cool on the tray, before storing. If you take them off when warm or hot they will be quite soft, lose their shape and stick together. I store them in a airtight container, with a sheet of baking paper between each layer.
If I was baking to enter these biscuits for a show, I would have fussed a bit more to ensure they were all the same shape. Look closely, at the top right hand corner – three are show quality, and one is misshapen. The misshapen biscuit would be rejected and not included in a show entry.
Happy baking with my family's Blue Ribbon ANZAC biscuit recipe, of course you will need to use Honey Delight Yellow Box honey to achieve the standard befitting a blue ribbon'.
I would like to thank Carmen for so kindly sharing her family's treasured recipe with us. Tell me, readers, do you bake ANZAC biscuits and does your family have a traditional recipe?
I'm Liz, a.k.a Bizzy Lizzy,
the writer, cook and traveller behind
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.