Home Isolation means that I’m cooking and eating way too much. Mostly good healthy tucker using fresh vegetables from the garden, but it’s the need for “comfort food” like Damper that is getting me in trouble.
Damper is an iconic Australian bread historically prepared by stockmen, drovers and swagmen as flour and salt could easily be carried. Just add water – literally. Damper could be cooked over the coals of a campfire or in a camp oven, and was eaten with salted beef or lashings of Golden Syrup ( also known as Cocky’s Delight or Cocky’s Joy).
According to the Australian Dictionary Centre the name was derived from “damping” the fire, covering it with ashes. This preserved the red coals, ready to re-kindle the fire the following morning. The damper was buried in the ashes to bake.
Damper has seen a revitalisation and gentrification of sorts. Each Australia Day, the 26th of January, the traditional Damper recipe is tweaked by thousands across the nation and is served alongside prawns, barbecued lamb chops, and lamingtons or pavlova. Ingredients can include goats cheese, chives, dried tomatoes, olives and spinach leaves. Even pistachio nuts. These days the bread base can include baking soda, powdered milk, or beer. No longer is the humble Damper something simply to warm the belly and enjoy with a Billy Tea, but rather a culinary experience.
I prefer individual Dampers which are cooked and served on a stick. This method was popular as they were just the right size to soak up the meat juices, baked beans or fried eggs when travelling the outback. Yes, my weakness – soaking up the meat juices very a la Henry VIII. No apologies whatsoever to vegetarians. They were hung off a string that went from one side of the fire to the other and cooked over the heat of the fire. That’s the Dampers, not the vegetarians.
They’ve always been a success when I’ve cooked them. And who said we have to wait till next January?
2 cups of Self raising flour
1 cup of water
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of butter
Mix. Divide into eight oblongs. Stick a skewer through the middle. Cook on bbq 15 minutes.
Place in cake tin, wrap in alfoil, and surround with embers. Cook for 45 to 55 minutes.