Australian Damper

During 2004 I have received questions regard "Australian damper" which is a traditional Australian bread, made without yeast, and commonly made on a campfire. It comes from the early settlers and those working in the outback in later years.

Damper Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon butter

Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a container and then add the butter, add enough milk to make a manageable dough.
Shape into a flat ball and place on a greased and floured tray, bake for 25-30 minutes.
Serve hot...with lashings of butter, Golden syrup or jam.
After obtaining the above basic recipe which will allow you to test this traditional Australian meal, I continued research into damper and below are a few interesting pieces of information.
  • As is typical of hand-me-down recipes, there are as many versions as there are bush babies. One recipe we read says to use beer instead of milk, then wrap the dough around a stick and cook over an open fire.
  • Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the loaf makes a hollow sound when tapped.
  • Another version of the damper was made by cooking in a greased camp oven with ashes covering the lid. Dampers were the food of the Australian Swagmen who lived and roamed in the great outback of Australia.
  • There is no quantity type recipe for this - you make it up as you go. Basically you take a quantity of flour (perhaps 250 - 500 grams) and a pinch of salt. Add to this either enough water to make a dough, or equal quantities of milk and water to make a dough.
  • Deep at the centre of Australian folk tradition is the memory of a simple, hand made bread prepared by several generations of pioneers and travelling bush people.
    For historical and economic reasons in the 19th century and later, Australia's often isolated rural population relied on a very small group of staples which were both durable and easily transportable - flour, tea, sugar - supplemented by whatever fresh meats were available.
  • The bread made in this way became known as "damper", perhaps because the fire was "damped" down to a moderate heat for this particular purpose.

If you require more information just enter damper and australia into your search engine and you will find many modern versions of this traditional Australian food.

While on Australian traditions and language here are several explanations.
  • Swagmen - known as a "tramp" in England.
  • Billy - all swagmen had a billy which was a metal can about seven to eight inches (180cm) high and five to six inches (130cm) wide. It has straight sides and a wire handle which was used to suspend the billy over a fire. It had a fitted lid with a tin plate handle across the top of the lid. The billy was used to boil water to make tea and as a container for cooking.
  • Golden syrup - made as a by-product of cane sugar refining.