Is there anything more Aussie than damper? For that matter, is there any easier meal to make in the camp oven?
Damper’s origins go way back. Stockmen and swagmen with few supplies would make it in the coals of their campfire, and bush breads of all flavours and complexities continue to be popular with campers across the country.
There’s nothing like sharing a damper around the campfire – it speaks to the Australian spirit of outback exploration and reminds us of the times of this country’s hardy pioneers.
With a fridge in each RV, each well-stocked with food from a Swan Hill supermarket, we weren’t exactly deprived of supplies for our Mungo adventure. But what would an outback campsite be without a damper on the coals?
Our damper was about as simple as it gets. To make Mungo Damper, you’ll need…
1kg self-raising flour
1 (preferably warm) beer
A packet of dried mixed fruit
A packet of walnuts
First, get your fire good and hot. Burn some large logs into coals; it’s the coals that do the cooking, not the flame.
Then empty the flour into a large bowl or tub and slowly add the beer, constantly kneading until you create a ball of dough. The yeast in the beer reacts with the flour to help the damper rise.
When you’re happy with the consistency of the dough (not too wet, not too dry) knead through as much mixed fruit and walnuts as you like. For a trendy café appearance, scribe some lines into the raw dough with a knife. Before putting the dough into your camp oven and closing the lid, sprinkle some flour on the bottom of the oven to prevent the damper from sticking.
Using a shovel, carefully create a bed of coals and place the camp oven on top. Shovel some coals onto the oven’s lid. The amount of coals you use – and for how long you cook the damper – will depend on your camp oven and the heat of the coals. This isn’t an exact science so it’s important to check the damper every now and then. You’ll know it’s ready when the damper has a golden crust and when your knife or skewer comes out clean after a ‘test stab’.
How you serve it is up to you. Golden syrup is perhaps the most popular condiment – it’s a cocky’s delight.
Originally published in Caravan World #516, July/August 2013.