Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Aussie Damper Bread on a Stick

I've been making this since I was a kid. Winter weekends spent on my friend Pete's farm in the Australian south west often involved burning off the felled trunks and roots of massive eucalypts in open paddocks and sleeping outside warm and dry by their radiating heat. These logs would burn for days. What could be more perfect for a 10 year old than whiling away the hours gazing at the southern night sky and cooking bread on the end of long sticks against a wall of glowing embers. I'm fairly certain that these experiences are responsible for the pyromania that I enjoy today.

Traditionally damper bread was baked as a loaf in a cast iron camp oven by drovers moving large herds of cattle across the outback. It is a very basic yeast free bread, made with self-raising flour, milk and bit of salt and scone like in taste. This version is more hands on and creates individual bread sticks that are delicious hot with lots of butter. This batch was made by our little beaver scouts at a weekend sleepover in Oxfordshire. A few teary eyes from woodsmoke, lots of burnt damper, but no burnt fingers!

Prepare a simple cooking fire using evenly sized smallish pieces of wood about 2-3 cm thick. Then prepare the dough while you wait for the wood to burn down to embers before cooking.

The dough (enough for 10 dampers):

4 cups self raising flour
1 1/2 cups milk (or water)
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Sticks:

8-10 sticks about as long as your arm and as thick as your thumb.

Method:

Mix the ingredients into a soft, light dough by adding the liquid to the flour slowly, constantly mixing with a knife, then knead for 5 minutes. Divide the dough into balls slightly larger than a golf ball. Work each portion of the dough onto the end of a stick in the shape of a sausage, making sure to cover the end of each stick. Cook each damper over the embers, turning constantly so as not to burn . After about 15-20 minutes, the damper should be golden on the outside and have doubled in size. Remove the damper from the stick, break it open and butter it generously. Seriously addictive.

1 comment:

artmummy said...

This reminds me of one of my favourite pictures of my nephew and neice - Toby and Amy, when they were little (great big teenagers now). We went to Thorpe Park, where they had a mock up camp fire and ranch. The children could toast piece of french bread on the end of sticks just like in your picture - my photo shows the two of them with huge long poles (way too big). They loved crunching on the lumps of charcoal they made! Simple pleasures...

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