The dough is mixed in a bowl, and then turned out onto a flat surface to shape into a flat round.
The original ingredients of damper were just flour, water and salt, and sometimes milk. This was kneaded together to make a dough-like consistency, and then cooked in a camp oven (similar to a Dutch oven) over hot coals from a fire. The bread was then eaten with meat, or smothered in golden syrup.
The damper bread dough is in the camp oven, which is standing on the hot coals.
Here you can see the lid being put on, it is covered in coals to ensure even baking.
Sometimes the men were too hungry to wait for the loaf to be cooked in this way, so they devised a quicker method. They simply wrapped the dough around a stick and held it in the fire to cook, rather like toasting marshmallows. They called these “Teddy Dumbbells”, and filled the hole left by the stick with jam or syrup.
notice the thick soles to his boots!
Damper is still made today in Australia, and is especially popular at barbecues. Today's damper is likely to be made with self raising flour, and have added extras. like nuts, herbs,spices, fruit, or cheese. Our damper-maker told us of a friend who rolls a piece of mozzarella cheese into the centre of his, which melts into the bread as it bakes. It sounds delicious! The damper we tasted had raisins and sultanas in it.
Cutting me a slice of the finished bread.
Of course, today, damper bread is often baked in an oven. If you would like to try damper bread, here is the recipe given to me at the King of the Ranges:
4 cups self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
handful of raisins and sultanas
butter, for greasing the pan
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl.
Mix in the dried fruit and make a well in the middle of the mixture.
Pour in the milk and mix thoroughly.
Turn out onto a flat surface dusted with flour, and shape into a flattened round.
Grease the camp oven, or a round baking pan, and dust with flour.
Place dough in the camp oven or pan.
Cut a cross in the top surface of dough.
Close lid of camp oven and bake in the hot ashes of your camp fire for about forty minutes, or bake in preheated normal kitchen oven for 30 minutes at 220° C (425° F).