I feel a bit like Julie Powell, the Philadelphia secretary who cooked her way through Julia Child’s book, ‘Mastering the art of French cooking.’ That’s 524 recipes in 365 days. An impossible task for most, but admirable nonetheless. I watched the movie 4 times and each time Meryl Streep’s immaculate performance as Julia made me want to rush into the kitchen and beat the fluff out of those egg whites, free style, until stiffly peaked and fluffed. Which brings me to these Anzac biscuits by Ottolenghi and Helen.
With the recent launch of Sweet, I’m tempted to quit work and take an adult gap year. Can adults even do that? Bake your way to happiness. As with most things bearing the Ottolenghi name, you can expect at least one but most possibly several, wild card ingredients that elevate the ordinary into the realm of exceptional. Ottolenghi’s Anzac biscuits are no exception. What to expect with these biscuits? All the usual suspects, plus raisins, honey and all bran flakes. The texture is slightly more toothsome, sort of nutty and very moreish.
Sadly, my one year baking sojourn has been reduced to 1 week. That’s all the ‘currency’ I have at the moment. I’m calling it My week of Sweet. If all goes as planned, I’ll be sharing 3 recipes this week that’ll set you up for the holiday cookie bake. The fact that there’ll be three tried and tested Sweet recipes on the blog shouldn’t stop you from buying the book. To the contrary, it’ll provide several compelling reasons why this book should be on your Christmas wish list. Think of it as trailer. This is my without a doubt my #bookoftheyear
With each turn of the page, the choice of what to bake becomes increasingly difficult. The criteria for choice might lie with what’s familiar, ingredients in your pantry or the challenge of something new. Honestly, there’s not one bake in this book that I’d turn my nose up at. For my first recipe I settled on the Anzac biscuits. Anzac and I come a long way. We all have food history, the kind that steers us towards the choices we make and the way we eat. And this is mine.
My journey with food started almost 16 years ago. Falling on desperate times, some might label it bankruptcy, I turned to food. Not the comfort eating kind but the bake to save your bacon kind. I baked what was familiar, like boerebeskuit (rusks) and Anzac biscuits. From 4am ’til way past midnight, our tiny oven was crammed with trays of cookies and rusks. We sold to everyone we knew and those we didn’t.
And this is what I learnt. Everyone needs a cookie sometimes. I also learnt the value of true grit, faith and hope. That’s a lot pressure for a simple cookie but it put food on the table and steered me on another path, one that’s brought with it great joy and gratitude. I’m sure these Anzac cookies won’t change your world as they did mine, but they’ll taste awfully good with a cup of tea. Give them a go.
Anzac biscuits by Ottolenghi and Helen
- 100g rolled oats
- 50g bran flakes, crushed
- 90g desiccated coconut
- 185g plain or cake flour
- pinch of salt
- 100g castor sugar
- 40g light brown sugar
- 100g raisins
- 160g butter
- 60g honey
- 45ml water
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- Coconut flakes and whole rolled oats, for finishing
- Preheat the oven to 170º C.
- Line a 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, bran flakes, coconut, flour, sugars and raisins.
- Heat the butter, honey and water in a small saucepan.
- Once the butter starts bubbling, add the bicarbonate of soda and stir briskly.
- Pour the honey butter over the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
- Press large tablespoon amounts of cookie dough into rounds and place on the baking sheet.
- Scatter the tops with coconut flakes and rolled oats.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until golden. Cool for several minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Here are several of my favourite biscuit and cookie recipes to fill the holiday cookie jar.