My fiance is a member of the Australian Army, and not long after we met he was deployed overseas for 6 months. As a partner of any member of the serving military knows, and in fact the members themselves, being apart for that period of time is difficult. Communication is sporadic at best, and whenever you read about something happening in the news where they are deployed you worry until you hear from your loved one again. As a result you make the most of what little communication you have.
So while Troy was deployed I decided to send him care parcels of baking. I loved putting together those parcels. I'd spend hours researching recipes that could survive the journey, which could be anywhere up to a couple of weeks before they arrived at their destination depending on what was going on in the area at the time. I would also go shopping and buy magazines, dvd's, snack foods and other bits and pieces to add to the parcels. Little did I know that each parcel I sent over would not only become a hit with him but with others too who were serving over there with him at the time. In fact, whenever he received a parcel news would spread quickly and people would come to see what delicious treats I'd baked to send over. Troy would gladly share my baking, in fact I think he got a kick out of it, and would gladly ration out biscuits or pieces of fruit cake.
While I sent parcels of baking Troy sent me a bunch of flowers each fortnight, and each bunch would include a note counting down how many weeks or days we had to go until we could be together again. Each flower delivery was huge, in fact so big that when I picked them up from my office reception to carry them back to my desk they would tower over me! And much like the baking I sent to Troy news of my latest flower deliveries spread through the office like wildfire with all the women coming to my office to see.
As hard as it was to be apart I think about how much harder it would have been for previous generations to cope when their loved ones were at war. What must it have been like back in 1915 when Australians were conscripted and sent off to war? There were no telephones that enabled you to call your loved ones back home and let them know you were ok. There were no emails either. The only method of communication was handwritten letters, which could take months or even years to eventually reach home.
And so tomorrow we commemorate ANZAC Day, which marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I and the landing at Gallipoli on April 25 1915. It is an important national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand for all of those who have given their lives in military service. While we now commemorate ANZAC day on April 25 the first ANZAC day was actually on 30 April 1915, when the first news of the landing reached New Zealand, where an impromptue half-day holiday was declared and services were held. It wasn't until 1916 that April 25 was officially recognised as ANZAC day. And while the early ANZAC day services focused on the landing at Gallipoli today's services serve as a time to remember and honour all service men and women who have served in the military.
Much like I did while Troy was deployed, fiances and wives of troops serving in World War I baked batches of the now infamous ANZAC biscuits. ANZAC biscuits became popular because they travelled well and did not spoil easily, but I don't think they would have become half as popular as they are if not for the fact that they are delicious too.
While I've baked a couple of batches of ANZAC biscuits to take to the dawn service at Troy's army unit tomorrow I also wanted to try an ANZAC cake because according to history the first published ANZAC recipe was in fact a cake and not a biscuit. Without access to the original recipe, this is what I came up with - Banana ANZAC muffins. I also wanted to make it a bit healthier than the sugar laden biscuit, so this version is sugar free too!
So, on April 25, it's appropriate we remember those who have served and given their lives, but also those who continue to serve and their partners and families back home.
Banana ANZAC muffins - sugar free
- 2 cups of wholemeal flour
- 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp of ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp of ground ginger
- 1 egg beaten
- ⅔ cup of brown rice syrup
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of baking soda
- 100 ml of vegetable oil
- 1 cup of buttermilk
- 3 bananas mashed
- ANZAC CRUMBLE TOPPING
- ⅓ cup of plain flour
- 2 tbs of brown rice syrup
- ⅓ cup of rolled oats
- ¼ desiccated coconut
- 30 g of butter melted
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius (375 Fahrenheit) and line a muffin tin with liners.
- Start by making the crumble mixture. In a small bowl combine the flour, brown rice syrup, oats, coconut and melted butter. Stir to combine and set aside while you make the muffins.
- Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a bowl and whisk to combine.
- In a large jug combine the egg, buttermilk, oil and brown rice syrup and whisk to combine. Add to the flour, along with the mashed bananas and mix until just combined.
- Divide the mixture between the prepared muffin liners, filling them until almost full. Sprinkle the top with the ANZAC topping and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
Erin @ she cooks, she gardens says
Lovely. I am so happy for you both, such a special story. Bless.
I love coconut and banana so much, so anything made with they is welcome. I will try them out. I'm happy you are back together.
Katie @Epicurean Mom says
What a wonderful story!! And such a thoughtful hubby! These Muffins look amazing!
Sandra's Easy Cooking says
Very romantic from his part, and so very sweet from yours..I can imagine your goodies being so popular. Lovely post, touching and refreshing! I really enjoyed reading it, and drooling over your muffins!
I can so relate with long distance love affairs. Really difficult, but can be rewarding too...You get to learn the values of trust, loyalty and total commitment. And you get to appreciate sweet stuff. These treats are really romantic.
Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen says
Anzac cookies was one of my first baking attempts. Making the muffin version is sure to bring me back to back when. These look yummy and rustic and homey.
Jen Laceda @ Tartine and Apron Strings says
thanks for telling the ANZAC history 🙂
i don't think i've seen brown rice syrup here in Toronto. Got to hunt it down now! belated happy ANZAC day!
JJ @ 84thand3rd says
What a sweet story and I'm sure both the muffins and the biscuits were a hit!
I am rolling out a banana something tomorrow, so we are on the same wavelength. Very creative of you to use the Anzac biscuits for the topping. I like that you went ahead and made these since you could not find the cake recipe. Also, this looks to be low in fat and sugar which is always a bonus. Have a nice evening.
This was such a lovely post and what better way to reflect than with muffins. Gorgeous pictures too!
I wolud like to commemorate the Anzac day with the words of Ataturk. Because as you know Gallipoli is in Turkey and Atatürk , Mustapha Kemal, was then a young Ottoman commandor , who had to fight against ANZAC s to defend his contry against british empire's occupation with the soldiers from all of his colonies including the ANZACs although their ambiguish independance situation.
This war was the one of the preliminnaries of foundation of new Turkish Republic by Atatürk and his people And also it was the date of beginning a friendship between victims of this war turks and ANZACs.
Here are the words of Ataturk are inscribed on a memorial at ANZAC Cove.
"Those heroes that shed their blood
and lost their lives;
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
who sent their sons from far away countries,
wipe away your tears;
your sons are now lying in our bosom
and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they have
become our sons as well."
Thank you for sharing such beautiful words Rachel 🙂
That is so lovely and romantic! Lovely story and thanks for sharing with us 🙂
Oh, what a wonderful post! You two are made for each other. 🙂
Thanks for those kind comments Carole 😀
Love the photo. The milk bottle with the red and white straw is just divine! Am definitely trying these. I made your lemon meringue cupcakes today - very, very popular!
I'm so glad you enjoyed the lemon meringue cupcakes. I hope you enjoy these muffins too. Just in case you have difficulty tracking down the brown rice syrup you can use honey too, or agave, or brown sugar if need be. 🙂
Yasmeen @ Wandering Spice says
In a former life I endured something similar to you - the 9-month deployment of my then-partner who was a US Marine in Fallujah, Iraq. I understand that feeling all too well.
Though I'm not "officially" Australian, I adore this country that has given me a wonderful new home, and am appreciative of all those who have defended it.
This is a lovely commemoration - and a beautifully delicious one too!
jen @ gifbtboxology says
i love this post. thanks for sharing jennifer.
we took the kids into the city to watch the parade again this year.
my dad is a returned vietnam vet and seeing him march a few years for the first time was very emotional for me. he never spoke of anzac day or participating in the march until about 8 years ago and now being part of the march is important for him. he had a heart attack last friday morning and has been in hospital in melbourne, only being released today, he really wanted to be discharged yesterday so he could attend the small march in his town.
it is a special day.
I'm sorry to hear about your Dad's heart attack. I hope he's at home now and recovering. 🙂
What a delicious alternative to the biscuits - and a great breakfast treat, too. thanks so much for sharing your lovely story too, Jennifer.
What a lovely way to celebrate and commemorate Anzac day. I love that these are sugar free too - delicious AND healthy!
What a lovely post . I fully agree and am grateful to people like Troy for being in the service of our country. What a quintessentially Australian recipe
Wow I never knew it was actually a cake and not a biscuit. And I don't know how the spouses of those in the military handle the seperation, I hate being away from my beloved for the 9hours he is at work, my hat goes off to you guys.
You got me emotional! Enjoyed the post SO much and I know how it feels to be away from the loved ones... specially the one you love the most.
I am reading a lot about these cookies and I really have to make these sometime soon!
Choc Chip Uru says
These muffins look simply beautiful and what a creative way to tribute to ANZAC day - the support to this day and your fiancé is wonderful my friend 🙂
Choc Chip Uru
P.S. may I link this with my Anzac post on Saturday? I am making a collection - thank you
Sure 🙂 I'd be happy to be included. Thanks 😀
Barbara | Creative Culinary says
I've seen some references to this today but this day was unfamiliar to me; thanks so much for the history and my thanks to your countrymen for their service; our countries have so often stood side by side in battles against evil.
The muffins look great too; I'm sure they will be very much appreciated.
K-bobo @ Gormandize with A-dizzle & K-bobo says
This is such a beautifully written post Jennifer! It's wonderful when time apart make a couple stronger in their love and commitment - because they have to find new ways of reminding that person how much they love them. I spend twelve months abroad away from my partner and it made our relationship stronger than ever. I'm glad your partner came home safe and sound!
Also - gorgeous looking cupcakes. They look delicious!
Thank you so much 😀 When you have to spend time apart you definitely have to work harder, and it's wonderful when it makes what you have stronger.
Russell at Chasing Delicious says
These muffins look scrumptious! My kind of recipe!
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
I didn't know your fiancee was in the army! you learn something new every day 🙂 And these are a great idea!
Sneh | Cook Republic says
What a sweet memory! I can imagine the parcels being a hit. Happy Anzac Day, lest we forget!
What a great combo 🙂
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
How delicious, I love the sound of the crumble topping!
Christina @ The Hungry Australian says
Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your story and revealing the human side to the army.
It was heart-warming to read of you baking for Troy (and his unit!) and him sending you massive bunches of flowers. I could do with a little of that, hint, hint!
This is a really beautiful story, heartwarming in fact. I think what's best about these muffins is that they've been baked and inspired by such a rich history. I'm sure they'll go down a treat at the service tomorrow.
A great idea! Those muffins are wonderful.
It must be hard to have a fiance who gets deported for so long... It is nice of you to send him parcels filled with goodies.
Lovely post Jennifer. You two are so romantic, it must have been so nice to be back together after that time apart. The recipe looks gorgeous and I'm going to try out my very first batch of ANZAC biscuits tomorrow.