Anzac biscuits: Messing with what’s not broken


Having let myself run low on brown sugar, I decided to save the brown sugar for something else and try out white sugar in the ever-popular Anzac biscuit recipe. I cannot say with authority how this turned out because I do not eat the vast majority of the cookies I make. They look and smell normal (although not as dark in hue due to the absence of brown sugar). I will rely on the experimental lab-rat-style eaters in my office for a final verdict.

The thing about baking, as I have written before, is that it is not really a discipline in which you can throw whatever you want to into a bowl and bake it. Precision is important; experimenting with different kinds of sugar, for example, could yield very different results. I have enough experience to know that white sugar in this case is not going to destroy the recipe, even if the flavor is slightly altered. All the time people ask me questions, though, about baking-related matters. They seem to be under the impression that baking is a laissez-faire enterprise, like a casual stir fry. HA. It is not. It is more like a chemistry project (only a lot more fun, likely less dangerous and with a whole lot tastier result). Seriously, I get asked whether baking soda and baking powder are the same thing and can be used interchangeably (the answer is no; each does different things). Some people think milk, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk are the same. No, in fact they are not.

My knowledge comes from experience (and being a stickler for rules, I am pretty glued to following recipes). But I am not a scientist with all the explanations tucked away as to why certain reactions between ingredients work the way they do. (TV/celeb chef guy Alton Brown actually gives a lot of the technical explanations in his books and shows. I recommend turning to him if you need to know the how and why behind baking.)

And the Anzac recipe again in case you’re too lazy to click the link (yeah, sounds stupid, but I can’t count the times someone has asked me to post a recipe again when I have clearly provided a link back to the original).

ANZAC biscuits
1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats (oatmeal), uncooked
1 cup coconut
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 Tablespoons golden syrup (or honey)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
2 Tablespoons boiling water

Preheat oven to 350F/180C
Combine flour, oats, coconut and sugar in a bowl.
Melt the butter and golden syrup or honey in a saucepan over low heat.
Mix the bicarb of soda with the boiling water and add to the butter and golden syrup mixture.
Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and mix well.
Spoon tablespoons of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving space between to allow for spreading.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. (Mine usually take less than this, so keep an eye on them.)
Cool on a wire rack and seal in airtight containers.)