Today’s story and the recipe come from the Australian Outback.
In Australia, we also call the Backcountry the Bush. Being aware of the different meaning of the Bush in America. , I’m choosing the word Backwater and Outback and not “The Bush” to describe our down under remote and very rural areas.
During the days of early European settlement, before roads and railways. Drovers moved sheep and cattle across the country. In large mobs stock walked along river systems and indigenous trade routes. Wide tracks of common land where for anyone to graze as long as they moved 6 miles a day.
Early Australia was built on Baking, Damper
Stockmen call “The Drovers” would move their animals for weeks sometimes months. In times of drought, Drovers and their animals would only return home when the rains came, and the grass grew.
Today, the Birdsville Track, Tanami Track, and the Canning Stock Route are for tourists. Stock are transported by road and rail along routes where they once walked.
Traveling with The Drovers and the stock were dogs and pack-horses. A particular breed of dog, the Australian Kelpie would muster stock and keep guard at night.
Damper remains a favorite of campers today. Served with butter and golden syrup or jam and cream.
7 Delicious Backcountry and Camping Bread Recipes
“The Traditional Drovers Damper”
3 cups of flour
1 cup water
Pinch of salt.
Make a well in the flour and salt. Add the water and mix the ingredients with a knife.
Move some campfire coals to the edge and place an empty greased heavy cooking pot to warm. Place the damper dough in the pot with a lid. Return to the fire’s edge and cover with hot coals and cook for 3o minutes.
Damper remains a popular treat for homesteaders and campers. A few modern amendments have been introduced with lemonade and beer.
Warm Beer Damper
4 cups of flour
A can or 375 mil bottle of Full Strength Beer, room temperature or warmed by the fire.
The Method remains the same as “The Traditional Drovers Damper” for all recipes.
Lemonade and Raisin Damper
4 cups of Flour
½ cup cream and ½ cup of Raisins
A can of Lemonade Soda, diet or regular
Rosemary Cheese Damper
4 cups self-raising flour
2 tspn white sugar
2 tspn rock salt
grated rind of 1 lemon
1½ tbsp chopped rosemary
2¾ cups milk
olive oil spray
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
¾ cup freshly grated parmesan
Damper on a Stick
Kids love cooking Damper, and an Aussie favorite is to make the “The Traditional Drovers Damper” and divide into 8. Get the children to take their portion and wind the piece of stiff dough around a stick. Heat the dough from the heat of the fire, don’t place too near as the outside will burn. When cooked, dip in honey or other syrup.
Lemon and Oregano Damper
2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
50g butter, chilled, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 cup milk
This damper is perfect with a rich beef gravy casserole.
The Cast Iron Boys Traditional Christmas Damper
2 cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Sprinkle with salt
1/2 cup mixed fruit
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped cherries
Milk, enough to combine
1. Place all dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. Combine dry ingredients using a wooden spoon.
3. Gradually stir the milk in to form a moist dough.
4. Cover a trivet in aluminum foil and place into your camp oven.
5. Place dough on the trivet, and place camp oven lid on.
6. Place Heat Beads® under and on top and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the damper is cooked
The Drovers had a key role in building Australia. Many poems and stories have been written about them.