biscuits

A Biscuit Story

April 25th is Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand. It was originally a day to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, which was the ANZAC’s first engagement in World War I. Today it is commemorated as a national day of remembrance for both Australians and New Zealanders who have served in war or other conflicts, to remember the sacrifices of those who served and honour those who died.

One way of commemorating Anzac Day is by baking Anzac biscuits. There are two stories explaining how these sweet biscuits (cookies) became associated with Anzac Day. The first one claims that the biscuits were sent to soldiers abroad as they wouldn’t spoil during transportation. The second story is that Anzac biscuits were sold as a way of fundraising for the war and eaten by Australians and New Zealanders at home. Whichever story is true, one thing that is not in dispute is the fact that Anzac biscuits are sweet and delicious.

Anzac biscuits also come with a legal warning! The term “Anzac” is protected by law in Australia, especially for commercial purposes, and cannot be used without permission from the Minister for Veteran Affairs. Happily there is a general exemption granted for Anzac biscuits but you must follow two rules. Firstly, the biscuits must remain true to the recipe which contains oats, flour, coconut, baking soda, butter, sugar and golden syrup. Secondly they must be called biscuits and not under any circumstances be called cookies. Here is my version of Anzac biscuits which, for taste reasons as well as legal ones, stays very close to the original recipe. 🙂

Anzac Biscuits

92093684_2871199646294287_5899779180450545664_n

 

Ingredients
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup sugar (granulated)
pinch of sea salt
60g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon golden syrup
1 tablespoon boiling water
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 170C / 340F.
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
Mix together the flour, oats, coconut, sugar and salt in a bowl.
Melt the butter and golden syrup in a saucepan.
Mix together the water and baking soda.
Pour the baking soda mix into the melted butter, being careful as it may bubble up.
Pour the butter mix into the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Drop tablespoonfuls of batter onto prepared trays.
Gently press on them with your hand. The thinner they are, the crunchier they will be and the less cooking time they will need.
Bake for 10 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool for 5 minutes on the tray before placing on a wire rack to cool completely.

Jam And Cream 

In my blog post, The Battle of the Cream Tea, I explored a major issue in scone serving etiquette – in what order do you put the jam and cream on the scone? The answer is if you’re from Devon you put cream first then jam and if you’re from Cornwall you put jam first then cream. The rest of us can chop and change to suit our tastes 🙂

Inspired by this delicious dilemma, I thought I would take all the guess work out of the scone saga and simply combine the jam and cream. I added chia seeds for the fun of it but also to thicken and stabilise the mix. My version is heavy on cream so you can play around with the proportions and add less cream or more strawberry jam if you like. You can also try different berries and fruits.

Whipped Cream with Strawberry and Chia Jam

IMG_2498

Ingredients
for the jam
1 cup fresh strawberries, roughly chopped
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon icing sugar
2 tablespoons chia seeds

for the cream
2 cups cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons icing sugar

Instructions
Place the strawberries in a bowl and crush with a fork.
Stir in the lemon juice, icing sugar and chia seeds.
Allow to set for 5 minutes.
Using a wire whisk, whip the cream, vanilla and sugar together until stiff peaks form.
Fold the strawberries through the cream.
Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

I’ve solved one culinary conundrum and now to begin another! A traditional partner for jam and cream is British scones, but the recipe below is for American biscuits. If you’re not American, biscuits are cookies but for Americans, biscuits are a type of scone. There are some differences between American biscuits and British scones but for me there is not much difference once I cover them in lots of butter, jam and cream. That’s right – butter! The original Cornish teas had butter which was spread on the scone first followed by jam and cream.

To add to the conundrum, the biscuits below are not rolled and cut or patted into shapes. Instead, the dough is dropped onto a baking tray. That’s why they are called drop biscuits 🙂

Drop Biscuits

IMG_1397

Ingredients
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup cold buttermilk, additional buttermilk may be needed
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 220C / 425F.
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.
In a medium sized bowl, stir together the buttermilk, honey and butter until small clumps form.
Add the buttermilk mix to the flour mix. Using a wooden spoon, stir until just combined and the batter pulls away from the sides. If the batter doesn’t come together, add more buttermilk a bit at a time until the batter can be scooped up easily but is not too wet.
Using a standard sized ice cream scoop, drop batter onto baking trays. You should get about 6 per tray.
Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve with butter or jam and cream or both.