By Daniele Foti-Cuzzola
Damper was traditionally prepared by stockmen and drovers who would travel to remote areas for weeks on end, with limited access to supplies. These men would travel with only basic rations consisting of flour, sugar and tea; and with limited access, they required food that could endure their long journey. Damper, therefore provided them with a filling food option that was easy to cook. By having flour and salt on hand, and access to water, the drovers and stockmen would cook their own bread straight on the ‘damped’ coals of their campfire. Today, damper recipes have evolved with some including the addition of butter, milk and even beer. For this recipe, I have infused the damper mixture with sea parsley (sea celery), which is a native Australian herb that is similar in appearance and flavour to its European counterpart. Damper is best eaten on the day it is made and is traditionally served as an accompaniment to stew but is also enjoyable with a generous dollop of butter.
- 3 cups self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sea parsley (sea celery)
- 80g butter, cubed, chilled
- 1 cup tepid milk
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
- Sift self-raising flour and salt into a bowl and stir in the parsley
- Using your fingertips, rub butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs and the butter is evenly incorporated.
- Make a well in the centre and add the milk.
- Use a flat-bladed knife to mix until the dough comes together in clumps. Use extra milk if necessary.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly and briefly to bring to a smooth ball.
- Shape the dough (roughly 3cm-thick, 20cm round) and place onto the prepared tray. Use a sharp knife to score the top of the damper into 8 wedges.
- Dust lightly with flour and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the damper is lightly golden and cooked through.
- Damper should sound hollow when you tap it on the base. Allow to stand for ten minutes before serving
From page 28 from Issue 8: ‘Aboriginal’ of The Record Magazine