One thing you’ll learn about me through my recipes is that I love butter. I use it in a heavy-handed, Two Fat Ladies, pre-medical-science sort of way.
So when Matt found a recipe for damper that included a tablespoon of butter, I was so excited that I committed all the ingredients to memory (there were only 3, don’t be too impressed), instantly forgot all the quantities, and made the rest up myself. This was the first damper recipe we ever tried out at the farm and I stuck to it until it was perfect. We then tried a few different recipes, but inevitably have come back to old faithful. Here’s my recipe, but don’t get too carried away with these quantities – I’ve only done this by look and feel, but this is a rough guide.
3 cups self-raising flour
3 tbs butter, chopped into small pieces.
Pour the flour into a large bowl. Throw the butter into the flour, and using fingertips, rub the butter into the flour to create crumbs. Once evenly rubbed in, pour a little beer in and mix into the flour mixture. Keep doing this until you have a soft dough. It should be soft enough to mould easily and hard enough to just keep it’s shape. Turn the dough out onto a board and shape into a round ball. Place this into your camp oven and place onto some coals. Use the shovel to put more coals on top. It should take about 30 minutes to cook.
Some helpful tips!
– There is a lot of butter in this recipe, so some people might try to tell you that you’ve baked a cake. You haven’t. You have created a very decadent type of bread. Whether or not this is appropriate to eat with eggs and bacon is a polarising issue until you’ve tried it. 100 per cent of people who have tried this (again, 3) have loved it.
– BUT, heed this warning! The butter will make it quite crumbly. Do not try to cut this bread while it is hot. Let it cool in the camp oven first, then it will be much easier to slice, rather than mash it in two and pretend you meant to do that.
– The temperature of the butter is everything. The colder the butter, the easier the ‘crumbing’ process and the better the damper will taste. You just have to look back to my first post, here, to see that this is a real issue for us. We don’t have a fridge, and it’s still getting really hot at the moment. But I’ve got a few tricks to deal with that, for example, take frozen butter with you if you’re camping.
– Finally, MAKE THIS AT NIGHT DURING SUMMER. This way you deal with all sorts of problems – the air temperature is lower, so the butter is easier to deal with; the fire is probably going anyway; and you can take the camp oven off the fire when the damper is done and leave it to cool overnight. As a result of all this, you’ll have fresh, easy to cut damper for breakfast in the morning, without any effort or having to deal with a hot fire during the day. Obviously we learned this on purpose and not because we may have over-indulged once and forgot about it until the morning.