Last weekend’s camping trip gave me the opportunity to test out a recipe for an Australian classic that has been on my to do list for a long time; damper in the camp oven. What better way to enjoy it than Cornish style with some home made strawberry jam and double cream? Well actually if I could have got hold of some real clotted cream that would have been even better, but for some reason its rather hard to come by in Australia. The next best things is King Island Dairy’s thickest double cream, or as in this case just some of the usual thick double cream you can get from the supermarket. If anyone knows of a “proper” clotted cream producer in NSW or Australia, do let me know.
For the benefit of non-Aussie readers, here follows a brief background on the origins of damper. The basic ingredients for damper being plain flour and water meant that it was the perfect camp food for Australia’s first European settlers and explorers, who often had to survive on little more than this, some salted meat and bush tea from the billy (not being experienced in the art of gathering bush tucker). In the absence of a camp oven the dough was simply prepared, shaped into a small flat circle and placed in a hollow in the camp fire embers, with some more ash piled on top to stop it burning. The damper was cooked if a tap on the base made a hollow sound. Lots of other ingredients have been added over the years, depending on what was available or to spice it up a bit. In our case we added a little sugar to provide the sweet effect for the Cornish Cream Tea.
I referred to my newly purchased book “Australian Bush Cooking” published by Boiling Billy for the basic quantities and instructions:
- 3 Cups of self raising flour
- 1 cup of milk or water (I used milk)
- pinch of salt
I also added about 3 tablespoons of sugar.
Mix ingredients together until all the flour has been incorporated. Shape dough and lightly dust with flour. Place in a greased camp oven and cover. Cook in medium coals and check after 30 minutes. Damper is cooked when it has a golden crust and a skewer inserted comes out clean. We probably should have waited a little longer for a deeper bed of embers as flames licking the sides did result in a little charring, but it can’t have been too bad as people came back for seconds. Do also remember to turn the camp oven half way through if the oven is not placed centrally in the heat.
For the Cornish cream tea effect serve with jam and then cream on top, accompanied with a steaming hot cup of tea.
Full credit must go to Carmen for her food styling advice and assistance.
Teapot from QueenB candles
Enamel mugs; authors own
Tablecloth; authors own