Learn to bake a traditional swagman’s damper

Learn to bake a traditional swagman's damper

Swagman’s damper is a yeast-free soda bread, traditionally prepared on a camp oven. It’s easy to make and very delicious, especially when smothered in butter, corn syrup, or plum jam. Do your tastebuds a favor and give this recipe a try!

Learn to bake a traditional swagman's damper
Learn to bake a traditional swagman’s damper

You’ll need the following:

  • 1 kg (4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 – 2 tsp of baking soda
  • 300 to 750 ml (1 1/4 – 3 cups) water
  • That’s it!
  1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, add water, and mix to a soft dough. Knead lightly on a floured surface until the dough is smooth. Shape into a slightly flattened cake and cut a cross on the top with a sharp knife.
  2. Flour or grease the bottom of a camp oven and place the dough there to rise. Leave it covered for 15 minutes. Place the camp oven, still covered, in a shallow hole lined with hot coals from the campfire. Shovel more hot coals over the lid to cover the camp oven completely.
  3. Baking time will depend on the heat of the fire, but you should inspect the loaf after 25 minutes. When gently tapping the loaf produces a hollow sound, this means that your damper is cooked.
  4. Damper is best eaten the traditional way: freshly baked and still warm. If you prefer a softer crust, wrap the loaf in a tea towel and allow it to cool.

Once you’ve mastered white and whole wheat loaves, try using nutty rye. Another option is to use sweetened dough for tasty scones and biscuits. The possibilities are endless!


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