Saturday, April 25, 2009

Anzac Cookies

Anzac Biscuits/Cookies

New Zealand and Australia share a tradition of Anzac Biscuits. Both countries claim to have invented them, but Anzac Biscuits are similar to many other older biscuit recipes that are designed to produce crisp, hard and nutritious biscuits that keep well.

One of the food items that women in both countries sent to soldiers during the First World War was a hard, long-keeping biscuit that could survive the journey by sea, and still remain edible. These were known as Soldiers' Biscuits, but after the Gallipoli landings in 1915, they became known as Anzac Biscuits. Soldiers themselves may have made a similar form of biscuit from ingredients they had on hand: water, sugar, rolled oats and flour.

The traditional Anzac Biscuit is hard and flat - ideal for dunking in tea and then eating. During the First World War, some soldiers used broken biscuits to make a form of porridge to add some variety to their diet.

Over the years, softer and chewier versions of the biscuit have appeared. There are many recipes for Anzac Biscuits. Common to most is the inclusion of rolled oats, coconut, butter and golden syrup. Eggs almost never feature. This may be because eggs were in short supply during the First World War. Many varieties of biscuit do not have eggs, however, and like Anzac Biscuits rely instead on chemical rising agents such as bicarbonate of soda (baking soda).

GIANT Anzac Biscuits (Cookies)

Recipe from Taste Au

Makes 8

1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
3/4 cup brown sugar
125g butter, chopped
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Sift flour into a large bowl. Stir in oats, coconut and sugar.

Place butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until melted. Remove from heat. Combine bicarbonate of soda and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Stir into golden syrup mixture (mixture might become frothy). Add immediately to flour mixture and stir until well combined.

Roll mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, into balls. Place 4 biscuits on each baking tray. Flatten to about 12cm (diameter) round, allowing room for biscuits to spread. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, swapping trays after 10 minutes, or until biscuits are golden. Allow biscuits to cool completely on trays.

These are crisp Anzac biscuits. If you prefer them chewy, flatten biscuits to 10cm (diameter) rounds and reduce cooking time by 1 to 2 minutes.

**I halved most of the mixture and made smaller cookies, which I baked for about 12mins.

***My husband rated these as the best EVER.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lest We Forget

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."

The date, April 25th, marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.

In 1915, in World War I, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula, with the objective of removing Turkey from the war.

However, the bold plan failed, and troops were withdrawn after eight months of stalemate, heavy casualties suffered by both sides. Over 8,000 Australian and 2,700 New Zealand soldiers died.

News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which they remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.

The Poppy

Poppies have an enduring association with Anzac Day, dating back to the 1920s. Throughout New Zealand, people of all ages wear a red poppy as a mark of remembrance for the men and women who have died in the course of service for their country. Poppies made of light cloth or paper are also woven together to form wreathes which are laid at war memorials up and down the country.

The poppies are a vivid reminder of the sacrifice - the blood lost - in war. The connection between red poppies and fallen service personnel has its origins in the Napoleonic Wars of the early nineteenth century; red or Flanders poppies were the first flowers to bloom over the graves of soldiers in northern France and Belgium.

It was in the same region - the Western Front - a century later that red poppies were once more associated with those who died in war. Canadian medical officer John McCrae penned the famous and moving lines

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

— Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 - 1918)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Decorating Cupcakes Has Never Been Easier!

A few weeks back I posted this picture of cupcakes I had made, decorated with the gorgeous cupcake toppers my friend Glory in the USA had sent me.

Glory has finally buckled under the considerable pressure to start up an online store so we can purchase her wonderful creations.

Australasian customers can go here: The Cupcake Courier AU (Loads of other cupcake goodies to tempt you too!)

For the USA & Rest of the World, check out her Etsy store: Glory's Store

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Crystallised Violas

It was my Father-in-Law's birthday today. My Chocolate fudge cupcakes are a family favourite. I have been wanting to crystallise some flowers for cupcake toppers for a while now. I think they look quite sweet.

I now have about 24 plants in my garden to give me a good supply. These are Violas and they come in the most stunning array of colours.

Make sure you get the spray-free variety from your local plant shop, brush with egg white, sprinkle with a little caster sugar (I added a tiny bit of edible glitter to my sugar) and leave to dry.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Love Buns :O)

Straight out of the oven, still steaming, just glazed.... first time making hot crossed buns. Did half with hearts for the kiddos after school treat.

Recipe from Taste.AU

1 1/2 cups (375ml) warm milk
2 tsp (7g/1 sachet) dried yeast
1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
60g butter, melted
1 egg, lightly whisked
4 1/2 cups (675g) plain 00 flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp mixed spice
1 cup (170g) sultanas
1/4 cup (45g) currants
1/4 cup (50g) mixed peel
1/3 cup (80ml) cold water
1/2 cup (170g) apricot jam


Combine the milk, yeast and 1 tbs of sugar in a small bowl. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 10 minutes or until frothy.

Combine the milk mixture, butter and egg in a jug and whisk to combine. Combine 4 cups (600g) of flour, salt, mixed spice and remaining sugar in a bowl. Add the sultanas, currants and mixed peel and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the milk mixture and use a wooden spoon to stir until just combined, then use your hands to bring the dough together.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with a damp tea towel and place in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until dough doubles in size.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a 23cm square cake pan. Punch the dough down with your fist. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Divide dough into 16 even pieces and shape each portion into a ball. Arrange dough portions, side by side, in the prepared pan. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes or until dough has risen 2cm.

Meanwhile, mix the remaining flour and water together in a small bowl until a smooth paste forms. Place in a small plastic bag and snip off the end. Pipe a continuous line down the centre of each row of buns, lengthways and widthways, to form crosses. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 180°C and bake for a further 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through (buns are ready when they sound hollow when tapped on the base).

Turn onto a wire rack. Place the jam in a small saucepan over high heat. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until jam melts. Strain through a fine sieve. Brush hot jam over the buns. Serve warm with butter, or toasted.

Notes & tips
Note: Also known as baker's flour or strong flour, 00 flour is a super-fine grade flour, traditionally used to make pasta or bread. The gluten content is higher, giving bread its chewy texture. It is available from supermarkets and delicatessens.
Variation: To make chocolate hot cross buns, replace 1/4 cup of flour with 1/4 cup of cocoa, and replace the sultanas, currants and mixed peel with 250g of chocolate chips.