It’s pretty tough to find a foodstuff in the wild like bread; it’s actually nigh on impossible. A bag of flour is one of the most useful additions to your camping larder and I rarely spend a few days in the woods without it. Not only is it packed with carbohydrates, something often scarce in the outback unless you want a diet of roots. These particular dampers pictured where made earlier this summer by the girlfriend and I, at a stopover on Dartmoor, before heading north for some surf.
I first came across ‘Dampers’ (also known as damper bread, bannock bread or twisters) at the age of 5, when my mother would make up the dough mix and my brother and I would whittle down some hazel branches for skewers on which to bake the bread. Once we had twisted the raisin-studded dough around the stick they were carefully placed over the hot coals of a fire and gently cooked to perfection, they were generally consumed so fast with butter and jam, the bread barely touched the sides!
Damper bread has its origins in Australia; the earlier colonials used it as a staple in their diet whilst they explored the vast expanses of the bush. Damper bread also lasts quite a few days so it proved a useful snack on the road.
The basic recipe is so simple you would have to be a complete Muppet not to get it right!
· Flour (650g)
· Sugar (20gs)
· Salt (1 large pinch)
· Baking soda (2 tbsp)
· Water (250ml)
The bread can be cooked in two ways, either in a Dutch oven or Billy can or rolled into a 1” strip, ½ cm thick and wrapped around a skewer and baked over hot coals for 20-30 minutes, just remember to turn them and don’t have them too low otherwise they will burn.
Other variations on ingredients can be as simple as bread and water mixed together and rolled on a stick (it wont rise but it is almost as good), this being a method that was perfected in the Cook Islands, this was also when the name twisters and twizzlers were assigned! We would also roll out the dough and cook flatbreads on one of our pan lids (see girlies below) The flat breads were then covered in chopped/mashed banana and powdered milk…actually quite tasty!
Again, with most things cooked over hot coals, this will taste incredible. It is also a recipe that can be played around with by adding different ingredients such as fruit, spices and even chocolate. I like to make mine with a few raisins thrown in, my other personal favorite is to add finely chopped apple and cinnamon (for wet ingredients such as apple and bananas, you may need to add extra flour or use a lot less water).
If your having a BBQ you can make it fresh over the coals as an appetizer and add some savory ingredients such as cheese, garlic, peppers or onion. This is such a versatile recipe you can do almost any flavor combination. If you have never made bread before, give this a go and you will see how easy it is, this is also a great way of keeping kids and adults occupied for a little bit and a much better social activity than munching on Marshmallows…better for your teeth too.