Damper for Australia Day

First off, all credit for this post goes to AdelaideFoodies – made me think, what do Aussies cook on Australia Day?

The Foodie is right, we come from a myriad of cultures and food traditions here in Australia. How this represents itself on national holidays is indeed fascinating food for thought.

It’s a public holiday, so, if you’re too lazy too tired to go enjoy the festivities then the holiday is all about relaxing at home, doing this and that, eating what you want, when you want and taking time to bless the Good Ship Australia and all who sail in her –  this really is the lucky country.

Well, AdelaideFoodie, I made pumpkin soup and damper, how Australian is that? Damper is a unleavened bread, usually made with just water, self-raising flour and salt. It served our colonial ancesters well, they cooked it in the camp fire, often in a cast iron pot. Australia’s a big, big, big country, back in the “old days”, living on a a cattle station or wheat farm, thousands of kilometres from the nearest store meant you ate what stored well or what you foraged/hunted/slaughtered yourself. Flour was also part of the food supplies given to the farm employees.

Rugged white men and Aboriginal folk alike, used the farm as a base but spent days away droving cattle and fixing fences. Food was what you carried or caught and damper was a staple. It’s said, a favourite way of eating it was with golden syrup, I get it, that would be a sweet treat to savour at the end of the day.

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My damper was a little different, I wanted to use part wholemeal flour so decided I needed some kind of leavening lest it be too heavy. I went with some soured milk and a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. I soured the milk with plain yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

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Just mix up your self-raising flour/s, salt and bicarb together in a big bowl, tip in enough of your sour milk to make a soft dough and bake. Don’t handle it too much, don’t knead it. Just plop it on a floured board and shape it into a cob or round shape. Sprinkle on more flour as you need it. Slash a cross in the top – it helps it rise and looks good too.

I baked mine at 200C for around 50 minutes. You might have to judge the timing for yourself – it depends in part on how much flour you used, what your oven’s like, how the planets are allighned lol, honestly, you’ll know, it will be hollow sounding when you tap it on the bottom and will look brown and gorgeous.

Let it cool a while before cutting. I know it’s hard to resist but it’ll cut better and does well with a little rest. This bread is scrumpious toasted.

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I’ve had a bit of delicate digestion since Christmas so there’s been a lot of vegetarian meals happening around here. I’ve been enjoying this new way of eating, it’s been great coming up with tasty meat-free alternatives and let me tell you, as a previously commited carnivore? Hand on heart, haven’t missed meat at all. I feel lighter, healthier and definately have more energy. A big added bonus for me has been the complete and total dissapearance of my huge, bloated tum tum! Happy days! It’s gone!

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4 thoughts on “Damper for Australia Day

  1. I was fascinated with your description of the early settlers and Australia, which I had heard was very much like our cowboy west in the USA – maybe with bigger expanses of land. The bread sounds good and especially with pumpkin soup. I had never heard the word “damper” before as a name for bread.
    Lillian
    lillianscupboard.wordpress.com

    1. Thank you Lillian. Yes, our early settlers had a wild, rough life – just like the cowboys! Of course, I should have mentioned, many were convicts from England, indentured to slave labour and living a life they probably could never have imagined.
      I’ll post my pumpkin soup recipe soon – maybe the Aussie version is different to the US version 🙂
      Kindest, Angela

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