Australian damper is a soda bread. It can be very simple and basic, but you can elaborate it with tasty fillings like in this recipe.
Damper was first baked over coals in bush camps. There are different versions. One particularly interesting one is made by wrapping the dough around a stick and baking it over fire. Other ones are baked directly on coals. Nowadays it is mostly baked in cast iron pots.
I am using a cast iron skillet in the video. A hot solid base is always good for baking bread on, but if you do not have such a pan, then you can use any thick metal tray or Pyrex dish. If you do not have any of those, then do not feel left out as it will work on a regular tray too.
The fillings can be customized to your taste. For me, the bacon, cheddar & chives worked so well. Eating it with some cream cheese makes for a perfect combo. But all of that is up to personal preference. The only thing you need to make sure is that you do not add too much stuff to the dough as it may weigh it down. If you want to replace the fillings, then take note of the given weights in the recipe and use that as a guide.
Soda bread is such an easy win. There is no need to worry about fermentation or temperatures. You could make this in about an hour and the result is absolutely delicious.
This recipe makes one decently sized damper made up of 8 large pieces.
Watch the video down below for detailed instructions.
150g (5.3oz) white flour
150g (5.3oz) wholemeal flour
8g (0.3oz) baking powder
6g (0.2oz) salt
50g (1.75oz) cold butter, cut into cubes
240g (8.45oz) buttermilk
15g (0.5oz) chopped chives
140g (4.9oz) streaky bacon. I used smoked streaky bacon.
70g (2.45oz) cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
More buttermilk to brush the loaf with before baking
1. Cook the bacon. Lay it down on a tray with non-stick paper and roast it in a pre-heated oven at 200C (390F) fan off. 20 minutes should do the job.
2. As soon as the bacon comes out the oven start preheating you baking vessel.
3. Leave the bacon to cool down completely. Cut it into small pieces.
4. Once your pan has been preheating for at least 30 minutes you can start making the dough. In a large bowl combine the white flour, wholemeal flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix well. Add the cold butter cubes and rub them into the flour mix as if you were making biscuit dough. Do this for around two minutes until the butter is all crumbled up.
5. Continue by adding the chives, cheddar, and bacon. Mix well again. Finally, pour in the buttermilk. Continue by mixing with your dough scraper. This dough does not require kneading. In fact, gluten is our enemy in this recipe. The looser the dough the better it will rise in the oven, so mix it just until all the dry flour disappears.
6. Place the dough on a non-stick paper square and shape it into a flat disc. Using your scraper score the dough. I divided it into 8, but you can do more if you like. Do not cut it all the way through though.
7. Brush the surface with buttermilk generously. This will make the loaf shine and give it a golden colour.
8. Bake for around 35 minutes or until the internal temperature reads above 94C (200F).
Leave to cool down and tuck in! And while you’re at it check out some more Baking World Tour videos.
Watch the video here