In just about any discipline – writing, fighting, art, music, sport or cooking – it’s imperative to build a foundational understanding of the classics before branching out into anything too extravagant.
The Dalai Lama’s personal mantra is to learn the rules so you know how to break them properly. We’re not sure how extensive his camp oven repertoire is, but this sounds like solid advice that translates pretty well to a camp cooking scenario.
Damper is the nexus point on this continent where camping and Australian cuisine originally intersected. It kept settlers alive for generations and would have been the official meal of every famous outback explorer, from Burke and Wills to Gregory and Sturt.
These men would have added whatever was at hand to this campfire mainstay, so it isn’t hard to imagine this cheesy damper recipe extending back centuries. And while the oldest are sometimes the best, this is a fun recipe to experiment with, trying different kinds of cheese and whatever else is left in the pantry.
– Three cups of self raising flour
– 80g butter
– One cup milk
– 200g shredded cheddar cheese
– Half teaspoon salt
– Handful of fresh chives, finely chopped
- Combine your flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and rub the butter through until evenly mixed.
- Slowly add milk to your flour mix while stirring thoroughly with a mixing spoon.
- Turn your dough over onto a floured chopping board and knead for a couple of minutes.
- Return your dough to the mixing bowl, add in your chopped chives and shredded cheese and mix through.
- Pre heat your camp oven over the coals of your campfire. Add a layer of baking paper in the bottom and top with a spray of cooking oil before rolling your dough into a ball and dropping it into your camp oven.
- Put the lid on your camp oven and cook over the coals for 40 minutes, checking after 20 minutes or so. Your damper is done when golden brown on top.
- Serve slices or chunks of damper piping hot and topped with a little butter or more shredded cheese.
Remember to experiment! We love adding a bit of browned bacon to the dough along with your cheese of choice.