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Friday, March 1, 2019

How to make damper

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              How to make damper

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If you thought damper was just for the campfire, think again! This easy recipe is cooked in your oven, and results in a crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside damper that is ideal pairing up with soup, stews or simply lashings of butter.

What is damper?

This traditional 'bread' was once the staple food for settlers and travellers in the Australian bush. It was often paired up with lamb, and was cooked along the side of the campfire. Damper got its name from the way it was cooked: in a fire that was 'dampened' down with water so the dough could bake in the hot coals. Today, damper is still loved, and is a popular side to hearty stews and soups in the depths of winter. It has also evolved, and is often jazzed up with herbs, spices, different cheeses and a wide selection of veggies.

Step 1: Start with a recipe

  • 3 cups self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 80 g butter, chilled, cubed
  • ¾ cup warm milk

Step 2: Rub it together

To give damper its signature crust you need to put it into a hot oven that's been preheated to 200°C. Place the flour and salt together in a large bowl and use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. It's important that the butter is cold when you do this otherwise it will turn into a sticky mess.

Step 3: Add the liquids

Next, it's time to add the milk to the flour mixture. Use a butter knife, or round-bladed knife, and a cutting motion to mix the dough until it just comes together. If you find it's still a little dry, add an extra tablespoon of water to help the mixture bind.

Step 4: Knead it together

Turn the dough out onto a bench and gently knead it for 2 minutes, or until smooth. Unlike other bread doughs, you don't want to overwork the dough, so handle it with a little care and stop as soon as it feels smooth and slightly springy. Shape it into a round disc and place it onto a baking paper lined tray. Dip a sharp knife in flour and use it to mark wedges on the top of the damper.

Step 5: Into the heat

Give the damper a final dust of flour, then pop it into the oven for 30 minutes or until it's cooked through. To test to see if it's done, give it a tap on the base, and if it sounds hollow it's ready. Let it cool slightly on a rack, then serve warm.

Damper variations

There are several damper variations that are just as popular as the original. Here are a few additions that you can add to the mix to customise your damper:
  • Your favourite melting cheese
  • Chopped fresh herbs
  • Deli favourites such as olives and sundried tomatoes
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Minced garlic

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