Wonder from down under.
I’ve never really understood how Australia turned out to be a nation of such accomplished bakers. They live in one of the hottest, driest countries on earth. Roughly 70% of the place is classed as arid, semi-arid or desert for goodness sake. You would have to be pretty committed to bake in those conditions. When the summer hits over here the last thing I feel like doing is putting the oven on for a baking session. I’m not even talking about the old-fashioned summers from days gone by. You know the ones I mean, where everybody fried eggs outside on the pavement. If the temperature goes up by a couple of degrees I’m terrible, Muriel. I tend to get a bit Wizard Of Oz. Writhing around on the floor like the wicked witch of the west complaining that I’m melting! Melting! Oh, what a world! What a world! I once asked an Aussie friend however did they manage with the heat down there? She said they pretty much don’t bother about the weather, though it gave her the bloody irrits having to peel herself off the leatherette couches.
Apparently, you can’t move at Aussie bake sales for the likes of lamingtons, friands and butter cakes. Today’s recipe is based on another of those Australian classics, the wonderful Anzac biscuit. Packed full of oats and coconut and sweetened with brown sugar and golden syrup. The original recipe for Anzacs has you baking individual biscuits. This one is slightly unusual in that for the sake of ease it’s all just tipped into a traybake tin and cut into individual bars after cooling. It’s a bit like if you gave flapjacks a huge power up and an Australian accent. Now anything that cuts down on effort is fine by me, so long as the finished bake is good and tasty. And this one is bloody ripper. At this point I would like to reiterate something. Whenever you are baking you should always take the time to read through the recipe. I didn’t. I stuffed up when I baked these so I had to make this recipe twice in the end. Well I say had to. I mean chose to. I don’t need much of an excuse to do some more baking. And besides, it wasn’t such a big mistake that it had come a gutser. I just wanted to make sure that at least one of the traybakes was right so I could pass it on. Sometimes you have to just knuckle down and persevere through adversity. Or as they say down under, Aussie battler.
A tale of two bickies.
I had the first batch of Anzacs in the oven before I realised there were supposed to be two types of flour in the mixture. Both plain AND self-raising. I had only used the plain. Of course by that time it was too late. It’s not like you can go scraping half-baked mixture out of the tin and try to add the extra flour. All I could do was let it finish baking and see what happened. In the meantime I got together a second mixture, this time making sure to include all of the ingredients. As it turned out, there really wasn’t too much of a difference to the end result. The first batch came out of the oven looking slightly sunken and bubbling like tarmac in a heat wave. The second batch just looked slightly firmer, and thanks to the self raising flour had risen up the tin a little. Taste-wise there was nothing in it. The only thing to separate the two bakes was the texture, and here is the lovely thing. Opinion was pretty much evenly split down the middle. Half of my nearest and dearest preferred the chewiness of the first batch while the rest preferred the more substantial bite of the second batch. In essence, this recipe gives you two for the price of one. Bonzer!
A tin to bake it in.
Being as it is based on an Aussie recipe, this is a slightly smaller traybake than some of the American ones I’ve shared. The tin you will need for this is a shallow 7 inch by 11 inch traybake tin. That’s 18cm by 28cm in English money. There are plenty of recipes around for that size of tin so it won’t go to waste. And if you happen to pass by any of the pound stores on the high street there is a good chance that you will be able to pick one up fairly easily without breaking the bank. And even though it’s not as ma-hoosive as it’s American cousin, the finished traybake will still be enough that you’ll get at least twelve hulking great pieces. Perfect for when you’re so hungry you could eat the horse and chase the jockey. And whether you decide to follow the recipe as it is written or go for the chewy version, I’m pretty sure these bars will turn out to be aces. Fair dinkum. Now here’s that recipe… Enjoy.
* If you want to make the chewy Anzacs then just leave out the self-raising flour.
- 90g Rolled Oats.
- 110g Granulated Sugar.
- 110g Soft Dark Brown Sugar.
- 60g Desiccated Coconut.
- 110g Plain Flour.
- 110g Self Raising Flour.
- 124g Margarine.
- 40g Golden Syrup.
- 40g Desiccated Coconut.
- Position a shelf in the centre of the oven. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4. Line a shallow 18 x 28cm tray bake tin with tin foil. Lightly grease the foil.
- In a large bowl: stir together the oats, granulated sugar, brown sugar, coconut, plain flour and self-raising flour until properly combined. Make sure there are no sneaky lumps of brown sugar.
- Melt together the margarine and golden syrup just until the margarine has melted. I do this in the microwave but you could do it in a saucepan if you prefer.
- Stir together until properly combined.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Add the margarine mixture and stir together using a wooden spoon until fully combined.
- Tip the mixture into the prepared tin. Press down firmly into an even layer using your fingers.
- Scatter the remaining coconut over the surface and press gently into the mixture.
- Bake for 25 minutes or just until the coconut has turned a nice golden brown.
- Cool completely in the tin before carefully removing. Cut into squares or bars.