How to Make Australian Traditional Damper Recipe?

Many people might not know about this Australian bread called Damper. It is a bread that was originally made by Australian settlers on the continent. Now, what is the history behind this bread? And how to make the traditional damper recipe?

traditional damper recipe

This Australian damper bread is traditionally cooked in hot coals of fire, but can also be cooked in an oven or over a campfire. This blog post will provide you with instructions on how to make this delicious traditional dish.

What is a Damper?

Damper is an iconic Australian dish. It is a traditional Australian soda bread that was originally made by settlers, swagmen, drovers, stockmen, and other travelers on the continent.

Some believe that Damper is the same bread as Aboriginal bush bread, a 3,000-year-old recipe made of crushing various native seeds and roots mixed with dough. Others think it’s very different from bush bread.

Aboriginal peoples may have contributed to the development of traditional damper, similarly cooked in the ashes of a campfire.

The History of Damper

How to Make Australian Traditional Damper Recipe?
Traditional Aboriginal Damper. Credit: canva

Damper is a traditional Australian bread. Stockmen in remote areas used it as sustenance when they traveled for long periods and had limited access to food, like flour, sugar and tea.

Damper is made with flour, water and sometimes milk. It can be leavened with baking soda or beer for a more enriched flavor.

Damper is traditionally cooked by flattening the ashes on the fired and wrapping it around a stick. It is then covered with ash and cooked until it sounds hollow when tapped.

Smaller pieces of bread, these “bush scones” are often called Johnny Cakes. It is uncertain if this name was influenced by the term for North American cornmeal bread. However, Australian Johnnies while often pan-fried remain wheat based.

Ingredients for Australian Traditional Damper Recipe

This Aussie damper bread is bread made from wheat-based dough. The composition of the damper is plain flour and water, with some butter if available, is lightly kneaded to make this bread that can be baked in the coals of a campfire, or camp oven.

The bread can be leavened with baking soda or beer for a more enriched flavor.

How to Make Australian Traditional Damper Recipe Step by Step?

damper
Traditional Damper and Butter. Credit: canva

These recipes are basic traditional damper recipes. There are also any other kinds of damper, such as sweet damper or tasty damper. 

Easy Traditional Campfire Damper Recipe 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 pinch salt

Method:

  1. Rub together the butter and flour until it is all crumbly.
  2. Add the salt, sugar, and a little milk at a time to the mixture until it forms into a sticky dough.
  3. Divide dough into two pieces, roll them into a long snake shape. Wrap the dough around a clean dry stick.
  4. Holdover the campfire or hot coals to cook.
  5. Serve and enjoy.

Easy Traditional Basic Damper Recipe in Oven

Ingredients:

  • 250 g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 25g butter, chilled and cubed
  • 175 ml milk

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Use a large bowl and combine the flour and a pinch of salt with your fingers. Rub in the butter until it becomes fine crumbs.
  3. Start by adding the water to the flour and stirring it with a butter knife or sharp knife in a cutting motion. Add 1-2 tablespoons of extra water if necessary. Use your hands to bring the mixture together.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape the dough into a soft, smooth ball.
  5. Roll the dough into a ball and flatten it out until it is about 17cm in diameter, or make mini dampers. Cut deep moats across the dough, then brush with milk.
  6. Bake into preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the damper is golden brown and makes hollow sound when tapped on the base. 
  7. Serve and enjoy.

Traditional Aboriginal Damper Recipe (Bush Bread)

damper camp oven
Damper in Camp Oven on Coals. Credit: canva

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups self-raising flour
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1⁄2 cups milk
  • butter, for greasing the pan
  • extra flour

Method:

  • Put the flour and salt in a bowl, create a well from the center.
  • Pour in the milk and mix.
  • Coat the camp oven or round baking sheet with cooking oil and dust it generously with flour.
  • Place prepared dough in the camp oven or cast iron pot and make a cross shape slash in the top.
  • Carefully close the lid of your camp oven and cook in hot ashes from your campfire for 30 minutes. Alternatively, bake at 220° C (425˚F) in an ordinary kitchen oven for 30 minutes.

Damper Serving Suggestions

damper
Cheddar and Chive Beer Damper Bread. Credit: canva

If you want to go tradition, serve damper bread with either a bit of dried meat or some golden syrup. However, it also tastes great served alongside a delicious chicken casserole and can be enjoyed with Belgian chicken soup on the side.

Or if you want simple, then the bread is best eaten with honey and butter the day it is made.

FAQs

What do you serve damper with?

Damper is typically eaten with dried or grilled meat. Damper could also be served warm and spread with golden syrup, as a type of dessert.

How do you know when damper is cooked?

Brush the top of the damper with flour, then pop it into an oven for 30 minutes or until cooked through. To know if the bread is done, tap a small indent on the bottom and listen as you break-if it sounds like there’s air inside, your bread is ready. Let cool slightly before cutting into thick slices and serving.

Is damper the same as scones?

Now, damper is very similar to a scone recipe without any sweetness or milk. Historically, it was eaten with golden syrup and given the nickname “cockys joy”.

Why do Aboriginals make damper?

Damper bread, also called Australian bush bread or seedcake, is a traditional recipe developed by Aborigines for many thousands of years. The bread has high protein and carbohydrates — an important part of the balanced diet.

Why is it called damper?

In 1817, historian James Bonwick refers to a First Fleeter by the name of William Bond, who had a bakery in Pitt Street and claims the first bread he made was damper. According to Bonwick, the name was derived from Bond’s way of “damping” or smothering his fire with ashes.

How do you eat bread damper?

Serve it in the morning or afternoon with soup, or have it as a snack. This herb and cheese damper is perfect with a cup of tea.

How long does damper dough last?

The dough will last a few days in the fridge, but it is best not to overdo it and use it within two days.

This is the best way to keep your dough in the refrigerator. After kneading, place it in a large oiled mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place this away from any cold air sources like refrigerators or freezers on top of the kitchen counter.

See also: Barbecued Snags Australia: What You Need to Know