Sunday, 21 April 2013

I made some ANZAC

biscuits on Friday afternoon - with a little "help" from assorted humans, both small and taller. 
They were intended for afternoon tea at the meeting I attended yesterday - and yes, most of them made it there. A few more are hidden in the biscuit tin so that the Senior Cat can nibble on them in the coming week.
On delivering the biscuits to the person on kitchen duty yesterday I became involved in a discussion of what people had eaten in their childhood. The ANZAC biscuits were part of this. They are, I believe, approximately what North Americans would call "oatmeal cookies" - a combination of oats, flour, sugar, golden syrup, butter, boiling water and bicarbonate of soda. (You can find more than one recipe if you do a search on the internet.)
There were other things mentioned as well. Scones and "fruit" scones (they had a handful of sultanas - US "golden raisins"? - thrown into the mix) and, later "pumpkin" scones. The latter were made famous by the wife of the then Queensland Premier. 
There was sponge cake and "Swiss Roll" - the thin sponge cake spread with jam and rolled up. The only way to eat that, if you were a child, was to unwind it carefully a little at a time and then bite into it.
There was "sultana" cake. This was plain cake with more sultanas thrown into the mix. It was particularly popular with the people, mostly farmer's wives, who had to cook for shearers. It was cooked daily in huge trays during shearing season and the workers would consume it during their morning and afternoon breaks. 
"Jubilee cake" was iced - but you still sliced and buttered it. It also had dried fruit in it. 
There were "little cakes" (what people now call "cup cakes" but most were plain vanilla or perhaps chocolate) and they would sometimes be turned into "butterfly" cakes by cutting off the top and then cutting the top into two "wings". 
There was also "marble" cake...the batter was divided into three. One portion was left plain, another was coloured pink with cochineal and (occasionally) flavoured with an essence of some sort and the last portion was flavoured with cocoa.
Naturally there were "lamingtons" and "jelly" cakes (a pink form of lamingtons made with a thin coating of jelly).
Come Christmas time - or a wedding - and there would be rich fruit cake, shortbread, mince pies, cream puffs and meringue kisses. Nobody was too bothered about putting on weight or cholesterol. They just ate when they felt hungry. At weekends people stopped for afternoon tea. 
Yesterday someone was having an 80th birthday and had brought a cake to share. The cake had been bought from a bakery with a good reputation and it was very nice. There were the usual biscuits on the kitchenette table. They had, apart from my contribution, been bought too.
And I could see that some people were puzzled by my contribution. Someone actually said to me, "But Cat you can buy ANZAC biscuits now. They have them in the supermarket."
No, they don't. ANZAC biscuits have to be homemade. They have ingredients in them, especially when made by smaller humans. They have love, wonder and excitement in their creation - and they have to be the most important ingredients of all.


Sue Bursztynski said...

So, how about YOUR recipe for Anzacs? :) I had a recipe from the Herald Sun that just wasn't working. Then I found another one online in a post about the history of Allipoli, and it worked perfectly. I made some for my ESL class, but next tie I hadn't the time and bought some - they noticed the difference.

I grew up with mostly European foods, but, oddly, hedgehog, which my mother thought she had invented, calling it chocolate biscuit cake. None of that awful icing on it! Just biscuits, milk,chocolate.

widdershins said...

Indeed they do! There are different traditional foods here in Canada, but your post made me remember the food I grew up with.