Campfire Cooking – Damper
There are 2 recipes here, the first is great for feeding quite a few people when you have the ingredients and time. The second can be prepared into zip lock bags and made up in small batches as needed. It can also have an egg added to give it a more cake like consistency.
Also see camp fire Flat Bread
Family sized damper:
This is a reliable recipe for damper – I make the mixture in the food processor on the day it will be needed and wrap it in plastic and store in the fridge. This minimises the preparation time around the campfire.
Of course if there are kids the damper can be made the traditional way and they can add their own choice of fillings. The same mix can be used for “dough boys”, where the damper mix is rolled into a sausage shape and wrapped around a stick and cooked, wrapped in foil (or just suspended over the fire). The result is able to be dipped in cocky’s joy (golden syrup) and dribbled everywhere before making it to the mouth. Nutella or one of the hazelnut chocolate fillings is also a good dipping mix for the juniors.
Light a fire and get some coals happening – this needs to be done well ahead of time.
- 3 cups SR flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 pack (125g) butter / margarine
- 1/2 cup powdered milk
- about 1 cup milk or beer
Food processor method:
Put flour, salt and powdered milk in the food processor and pulse to mix. Add butter chopped into cubes and pulse until the mix resembles breadcrumbs.
Put milk/beer into a jug and gradually pour into the mix while blitzing. Slow towards the end of the cup and stop when the mixture forms into a ball. Depending on the flour this could need a little more – it is quite a damp mix.
Add any flavourings (garlic chives, cheese, dried fruit, seeds) while kneading very lightly just to combine on a floured board or a piece of plastic film wrap. Flatten out to the size of the camp oven and mark deep slice lines with the back of a knife.
At this point I sometimes add a salty crust of some finely chopped herbs (last time I used lemon myrtle and rosemary ground with coarse salt) and press the mix into the top of the damper mix.
Lastly apply a light dusting of flour and wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge to await the evening.
Doing it al fresco – Around the fire method:
Mix the dry ingredients and rub in the butter with the tips of the fingers until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Gradually add the milk/beer, using a knife to mix it and shape into a round.
Oil the camp oven and cut some foil to double the width of the base, fold it in half and then fold in the corners to make an octagonal shape that fits the base of the pot. If you have a trivet that fits in the camp oven use that as well.
Add the damper dough and put on the lid. Remove the plastic first if it has been made in advance!!
Shovel some coals away from the hottest part of the fire, place the camp oven on top and then shovel more coals on to the lid.
Leave for around 30 minutes rotating ocassionally (I set the alarm on my phone), carefully check progress, without getting any coal dust in the damper.
- Look for fairly even brownness,
- tap and see if it sounds hollow
- stick a fork in and see if there is any dough sticking to the fork.
- cover and rotate if necessary for more cooking time
I find that it generally needs an additional 10-15 minutes.
It is usually necessary to have a second damper prepared, usually a fruit one, for those wanting to try it with golden syrup (cocky’s joy). In my experience this is just about everyone who comes to our camp fire nights.
PRE-MIXED SAVOURY DAMPER
I love zip lock bags for travelling. For damper I make up a bag with all the dry ingredients and just take out as much as we will need (1 cup is more than just enough for 2), and continue with the mixing and cooking. You really don’t want to have any leftover unless you want to feed some seagulls,it can be a bit stale the next day.
- 2 ½ cups flour
- ½ cup powdered milk
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- Couple of grinds of black pepper
- ¼ tsp each of dried thyme, rosemary, oregano
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- (if making something dessert like and sweet omit the herbs, pepper and most of the salt and add a tbs of sugar, some cinnamon and maybe nutmeg)
WET – to be added at camp site as needed
- 2 ~3 tbs Oil (light olive, rice bran, coconut)
- Water (or beer) enough to make a wet mix
This is where it comes together and choices are made but there are basics –
- don’t over mix, this is not bread it is more like a giant scone (in Australia and Britain, a scone is something different in US) we don’t want to work the gluten.
- It is a fairly wet mix – you will use flour in the camp oven, on your hands and on the outside of the shape so don’t use all the pre-mix – keep some back
- The camp oven /Dutch oven should be hot enough to turn a piece of paper brown in 5 minutes – not black
- Set up a trivet in the camp oven to raise it up, a piece of foil and some flour as additional protection helps – you can always cut off the burnt bottom
- Only make what you are likely to eat
- Add stuff – select from – cheese, olives, semi-dried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, fresh herbs. If doing the dessert version – chocolate chunks, dates, sultanas, cinnamon, nutmeg, chopped nuts
Remove some mixture from the master bag and put into a bowl (or another plastic bag and do all mixing through the bag), pour in some oil (about 1 tbs) and rub/work it in, add more oil to get a bread crumb like texture.
Add liquid – not too much to start – water or beer – and mix in, adding more and lightly mixing until all dry ingredients are incorporated.
Flour hands and form the mix into a ball, if adding stuff poke a hole in the middle and add it, then squeeze and twist a couple of times to distribute.
Flatten out the ball to fit in the camp oven, place the disk on the trivet, cut some deep lines across it, flour the top, put the lid on and cook as described above.
Serve as above.