Humble Oats

Funny how a simple thing like homely rolled oats can cheer a body up.

I was never really a fan of oatmeal, or oatmeal cookies, when I was a kid. They always seemed like the mean version of something better – namely, Cocoa Puffs cereal or Chocolate Chip Cookies! I remember feeling so betrayed when I bit into a raisin rather than a bit of chocolate.

I turned a corner when I learned a recipe at the Tinsley House for Oatmeal Gingersnaps, a wonderful, crisp little cookie that proved to be much more than the eye beheld. When I moved on to my own apartment, I found myself buying cans of Quaker oats so I could keep making the cookies, and one day, I came full circle and decided I liked eating hot oatmeal for breakfast again, with big lumps of brown sugar melting into the moat of milk at the bowl’s edge.

ANZAC biscuits with morning tea

In Ireland, I’ve been introduced to the ANZAC biscuit…a simple oatmeal cookie based on a recipe that used to be sent out to Australian and New Zealand soldiers during WWI (ANZAC = Australian/New Zealand Army Corps). When I first saw these, again I was not impressed. Who wants a stodgy ol’ oat cookie when you can have a chocolate brownie or raspberry tart?

I have been so wrong! 🙂

These cookies are so delicious and easy, and, due to the addition of desiccated coconut, unlike any oatmeal raisin cookie I ever encountered back home. At their best, they’re crisp and brown on the outside, with a chewy centre, much more like a sweet, oaty macaroon than a traditional oatmeal cookie. I finally bit the bullet and made them myself recently (as a late nod to ANZAC Day, on April 25), from a big bag of Flahavan’s oats sitting idle in my kitchen cabinet.

Thank you, ANZACs, for your service, and thank you to my Aussie and New Zealand friends in Ireland (and a talented local baker named Julie Anne) who introduced me to this cookie and generated a most enticing way of getting one’s daily intake of good old humble oats.

There are many versions of this recipe online that differ slightly – this is the one I used and it worked a treat:

ANZAC Biscuits

  • 180 grams (12.5 Tbsp) of butter, melted
  • 1 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 Cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1 Cup rolled oats
  • 1 Tbsp golden syrup (corn syrup will work if you’re Stateside)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and line a baking tray with baking paper. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the golden syrup and baking soda to the butter and stir well. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix together the flour, oats, sugar, coconut and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the melted butter mix to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon to combine ingredients. Roll about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of dough into small balls and flatten gently between the palms of your hands. Place dough on baking tray about 2 inches apart to allow room for spreading (and they will spread, even if they look like they won’t!). If dough seems too greasy, a bit more flour can be added at your discretion (I had to do this for the second round into the oven – maybe I was just too generous with the butter to begin with!).

Bake the ANZACs for about 10 -12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let them sit on the baking tray for another 5 minutes. Remove from the tray and cool on a wire rack. Yield: 10 -15 biscuits. 

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Also, here’s the recipe I got years ago from my friend Maggie for Oatmeal Gingersnaps – best when made in a wood-burning stove! 🙂

Oatmeal Gingersnaps

  • 1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 3/4 Cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Cup butter or shortening
  • 1/4 Cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • sugar

    Stir together flour, sugar, oats, soda, ginger, cloves and salt, and then blend in the butter, molasses and egg. Beat well (an electric mixer helps, if you have one). The dough will be quite stiff. Form into 1 inch balls and roll in reserved sugar. Place 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a moderate oven or at 375 degrees F (or 190 C) for 8 – 10 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for 1 minute outside the oven – this will help them “crisp.” Cool on a wire rack. Fabulous dunked in tea. 


5 thoughts on “Humble Oats

  1. Pingback: Lucky and Blessed « View From an Irish Back Yard

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