Today, I am going to activate your taste buds by stimulating your taste with another traditional Australian recipe, Damper!! Listening to the recipe name, I guess all the folks out there are watering mouth! Damper, a great camping food restores your senses of taste and smell. Have you ever wondered why this traditional Australian dish tastes so good!? To know the reason, just follow our post and continue reading this topic.
What is Damper?
Damper is a staple bread of the early Australian pioneer’s, historically prepared by drovers, swagmen, stockmen, and other travellers who travel in rural areas for extended periods. They use to carry only basic stores like sugar, salt, flour, and tea along with whatever meat available. With those limited ration, stockmen and other travellers prepared damper in a simple and easy way. Therefore, traditionally, damper is made of bushman’s bread using the dough made from basic ingredients of kitchen such as flour, salt, and water. It is cooked directly on the coals of a camp fire or open fire or baked in a camp oven.
This Australian iconic dish is been serving as the traditional dish in Australia and New Zealand for many decades. It is well-known across Australia that Damper is an unleavened bread cooked in the hot ashes of an open or camp fire or even baked in an oven. At present, the modern style of cooking Australian damper is of course not unleavened for the reason, the modern damper preparation method uses self-rising flour, milk or beer instead of plain flour, and water.
Traditional Method of cooking home-made Australian Dampers
Hot coal is the key ingredient in cooking home-made Australian dampers. The dough used to make damper is supposed to wrap around a stick and placed into an iron pot in order to cook it properly and finally the whole set up is buried in the hot coals. After some time, the result is: the dough is turned into a bread, which is called ‘Damper’ in Australia.
Why the bread is called damper!? The finally cooked bread is called ‘damper’ because the fire is damped over the ashes covered hot coals to allow the bread to be cooked. According to Australian Dictionary Centre, the term ‘Damper’ is derived from a Lancashire expression meaning “something that damps the appetite”.
However, Sydney is the place where the damper was actually invented. James Bonwick mentions that William Bond, a First Fleeter who owns a bakery in Pitt Street named the first bread made by him as ‘Damper’. Bonwick also refers that the name, ‘Damper’ was derived from the way the fire was damped to cook bread in hot ashes. It was cooked in the same way in the bushes by the swagmen, stockmen, drovers, and other travellers since it is easy for them to carry ingredients like flour and salt and to prepare damper they only required water.
Another way of cooking dampers is a ‘Neater Method’, a method which is regularly used today, is to cook dampers in an iron camp oven.
Australian Damper Recipe Modern Style
The original version or style of making dampers is simple and easy using only basic rations like flour and salt. A little amount of water is required to make dough and hence was great on travel trips. But in modern version, milk is used instead of water and cooked in an iron camp oven to avoid the need of brush off ashes before eating. Here are few modern style recipes to make best and delicious dampers in your home.
Three Cups or 450 grams of plain flour or self-rising flour
Six fluid ounce of Milk (if the dough mixture is too dry, add a little more milk)
¼ teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Sugar, Caster (sugar, granulated)
1/3 cup or 80 grams of chilled butter
Extra flour if needed
1 Pastry Brush
1 Baking Tray
Instructions to prepare Yummy Dampers
Step-1: Takerequired amount of flour, salt, sugar, and water in a large bowl. Then, mix the self-rising flour, salt, and sugar using milk in order to form a soft dough.
Step-2: Rub your fingertips with butter and roll into the flour until you create fine breadcrumbs.
Step-3: Knead the dough until it becomes softer and smoother.
Step-4: Now shape into a round loaf and brush with the milk. Then cut across the top surface of the dough.
For Campfire Cooking
Step-5: Oil the camp oven with butter and dust with flour. Then add bread dough and cover.
Step-6: Take the whole set up into your campfire and cover it with the hot ashes and coals. Let it bake for about thirty minutes.
For Oven Cooking
Step-5: Take a round cake tinand grease and dust with flour. You can use a flat baking tin instead of round cake tin. But the round tin gives you the better shape to the loaf.
Step-6: Now place the soft dough in the pan and bake it in a preheated oven at 375 degree Fahrenheit or 190 degree Centigrade for 40-50 minutes.
Note: If you want to test whether the damper is done, just tap on the loaf and make sure you hear it hollow. Cut it into moderately thick slices and serve it harm. Top it with your golden syrup, butter, or favourite jam.
You can add different kinds of ingredients to make it have a different flavour such as desiccated coconut, sultanas, cinnamon, and extra sugar to make a sweet damper. I have also included different types of damper variations below.
Per Serving: 133 calories
1.4 g fat
5.5 g carbohydrates
3.8 g protein
3 mg cholesterol
590 mg sodium
Another Variation of Damper Recipe
1) 5 teaspoons baking powder
2) 1 Teaspoon Butter
3) 1 Teaspoon Salt
4) 1 Teaspoon Sugar
5) 2 ½ cups Plain Flour
6) 1 cup fresh milk (you can just use water)
7) 1 cup of desiccated coconut
Directions to make Desiccated Coconut flavoured Dampers
Preparation of Dough
Firstly, mix the dry ingredients usingyour choice of liquids like water or milk and butter. This is the best way of making soft dough. Once the dough is made, knead it for about 10-10 minutes.
Wrap up the dough in a double layered foil greased with oil and place the set up in the coals of the camp fire. Let it cook for some time until it is cooked properly. Poke the set up in between to make it cook properly before retrieving from the fire. To cook it in the oven, preheat to 350 degrees F.
Add more Ingredients
Now at this point of the process, add desiccated coconut, baking powder, sugar, salt, and mix all the ingredients very well. Form a softer dough.
Shaping out the Dough
Divide the dough into small, round equal partitions and flatten the round balls. Transfer the flattened balls on to a greased baking sheet, then keep it for baking. Or you can take a round cake tin to bake the dampers. Make sure the baking is done for 30-40 minutes. If the dampers are not baked properly, then let it bake for more minutes.
Once the dampers are ready, cut it into a thick slices with butter, jam, vegemite, or golden syrup. And eat it right away while it is sizzling hot.
Hope you all enjoy our recipes of great camping food which brings back happy memories of camping!!
Total Fat: 2gr
Calories per Serving: 300
Sugar: 1 gram
Vitamin A: 1%
Vitamin K: 0.4%
Folate equivalent: 5%
1) I usually cut the top of the bread before baking into four slashes so that it will be easy to serve in the form of wedges. Even the crosswise cuts works awesome.
Only with the help of handful of ingredients and no rising time, we can enjoy yummy dampers in different variations and flavors. And oven is a great substitute to the ashes or hot coals from a campfire. In the above recipes, we served dampers using golden syrup. What is it!? It is nothing but a thick, amber colored cane sugar syrup popular in many European baked goods. You will find golden syrup in international/British grocery stores or Amazon.
Today, if you are invited to an informal party, you will see a damper served somewhere on the table. Depending on the menu, people serve dampers in different flavors. On television, a contestant in a cooking program, My Restaurant Rules, prepared dampers for the competition. Yes, in this way dampers are still being used and served as a main dish in informal parties and shows. And these dampers are bought from pastry shops or grocery stores. These dampers can be stored for up to one month under right temperatures.
“Damper is the bush-bread of Australia. Drovers (cowboys) baked Damper in camp ovens buried in the hot ashes of their camp fires in the Outback, but if you don”t want to build a camp fire in your backyard, damper can also be baked in a normal kitchen oven. To eat a damper: Cut the damper into rustic chunky slices, spread a liberal amount of butter on the damper and top with either jam, honey or Golden Syrup. YUM… You just got to have a cuppa with it.”
This is a contributor’s opinion and the reason why I included this here is, to make you best understand about the dampers craze and popularity in public view. I felt this would be a best conclusion to this recipe.