A short history of the Cranzac universe. In pictures.

They began by accident. Created because I was baking Anzac biscuits for the kids and happened to have some cranberries left over. In they went and the result was, in a word, unbelievably delicious (yes, that's two words, but let's not lose focus here).

A discussion in the office about the resulting 'Cranzac' biscuit developed quickly from 'we should sell these and raise money for the RSA' to calling Reese at Thorndon New World in Wellington to see if he'd get on board and support the project. And oh my stars, did he ever.

He loved the biscuit, he loved the idea and he even loved the sticker I designed with - in the absence of any need to share credit - my own face under my own name in the middle of it.

So we tinkered a little with baking times and quantities, given the humungous, industrial ovens that they cook with and in a day or two had come up with what was a bloody good biscuit - true to the recipe that I'd accidentally created a week earlier.

Then Reese and his team figured out nutritional information, worked out a price, created a code, and started on production. This was a shade over two weeks out from Anzac Day.

He called me on the eve of their first day of sale to say he'd made 600 packets of Cranzacs. At which point my dodgy heart nearly gave out. I suffered an immediate puckering of the sphincter and shortness of breath. Honestly? I'd thought we might sell a hundred. Maybe one-fifty. But 600 packets?

I imagined half of them going stale post Anzac Day or being heaved into a 'half price' bin.

As I write this we are just over a week in with just under a week to go until Anzac Day - our national day of remembrance. My Cranzacs have gone much better than anyone could have imagined. 1200 packets sold to date.

Read that number again. 1200. Thats 6000 biscuits. With five sales days to go. Already this has been so successful that we're talking about how far and wide to take it next year and I've applied to trademark the name and protect the recipe.

So. If you haven't already - go get some. You have five days left. Proceeds after expenses go to the Wellington RSA.

Kudos to Reese and his team, working round the clock to make the delicious, cranberry-packed treats.
Just quietly, I'm mega-stoked.

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Get your gluten - FREE!

I am asked every second day if I have any gluten free recipes on the website.

The answer is always the same. Nope. There are, I tell people, plenty of gluten free websites that you can Google, I'm just a bloke who likes to bake things for the family and me - and none of us are (yet) gluten free.

Then, yesterday, Zoe didn't ask the question. She just grabbed a recipe she liked the look of and used a gluten free flour mix to bake it. As it happened the recipe came out great!

See for yourself:

The GF element was a mix of rice, potato and tapioca flour and a bit of xantham gum, she tells me. So, you know what? There ARE gluten free recipes on the website. Any of them can be gluten free. If it's a great recipe, it's a great recipe. Just use gluten free ingredients.

Thanks Zoe - like your style.

Now. Are there any dairy free recipes? As it turns out - probably.

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No better feeling!

You know that thing when someone asks for a recipe and you give them one and then they make it and take it to a party?

I had that over the weekend. Only the party was a big deal and the recipe really was mine and not just out of the Edmond's book and the person making it needed it to come out great because it had to impress people who know what they're doing. So ... pressure on.

This was what I told her to make. The secret is the cranberries. And the spices. And the brown sugar.

Then when I didn't hear from her after the party I got nervous. I hadn't worked, I thought. She can't bear to tell me how bad it was, I thought. I have failed her, I thought.

So guess how good it felt when I got this text:

OMG! Divine! Blew everyone away!!

Best feeling ever. Because the thing about baking is this: it's for sharing. The food or the recipes or ideas, or whatever. What's the point of baking great cakes if you're the only one eating them?

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Spice it right.

A quick thought on spice.

On second thought, this applies to pretty much any ingredients but you can taste it more with the spices you use.

All due respect to the folks at Greggs and other broad scope companies (Pams etc), but for God's sake don't use their spices in your baking.

Go to The Spice Rack, Spice Trader or somewhere similar and get the real thing. This is especially true with ginger. The difference between standard, bland, generic powdered ginger in your ginger slice and the real, full on stuff from a proper spice specialist is unbelievable.

Some things you can scrimp on, but not that.

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Well pepper my nuts!

I don't know about other blokes but I've had trouble with gingernuts.

Not red-headed people, some of my best friends are flame fried carrot tops, but actual gingernuts. Biscuits. A lot of recipes come out soft or without the desired spicy punch.

Enter Doug.

He's the genius that gave me the best biscuit recipe I've tried. I reckon ... and I'm not normally this adventurous ... a pinch of pepper goes a long way with these cookies.

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So many recipes.

If ever proof was needed that I'm the world's laziest bugger then here it is (bookmark this in case proof ever is actually needed in, like, a court of law).

My lovely Mum gave me a journal a few years back with several of her and my grandma's baking recipes hand written into the pages. Since then I've printed and been gifted and stolen and torn from the newspaper hundreds more recipes, folded the pieces of paper and shoved them into the journal with the thought that I'd eventually get around to writing them or pasting them into the book.

It hasn't happened. I have a suspicion it never will. But I kind of like the rustic (read: half-arsed) way it all looks, and the fact that in having to unfold every single sheet to find the recipe I'm looking for, I also rediscover plenty that I'd like to try.

Have you got a journal with lots of pieces of paper shoved into it?

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