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Project - Make a Simple Bush Damper

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Karen Hood
Staff member
Jul 2, 2011
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Upper North Shore, NSW
Project: How to make a simple damper

Author/Instructor: BushChef

Description: Make a quick and easy damper in your billy

What utensils/ tools you will need:
A ziplock sandwich bag
Long-handled spoon
1L billy can with lid
Tripod for hanging the billy
Firelighting tools of your choosing
Kindling/ suitably sized firewood for a SMALL fire

(Serves 1)
8 tablespoons of plain flour
2 tablespoons of milk powder
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 teaspoons of white sugar (omit if you are making a savoury damper)
Herbs and spices of your choosing (omit if you are making a sweet damper)
Any spreads or toppings you wish to add to the cooked damper (suggestions: jam, butter, maple syrup, peanut butter, etc.)

Skills required:
- Firelighting skills
- The ability to clear a safe, clear space for a small fire
- The ability to build a fire from scratch
- The ability to determine, monitor and adjust fire size and intensity of heat as required for cooking purposes

Time needed:
Including the time required to collect wood/ start and build fire/ cook damper, approximately 1 hour

Learning Outcomes:
You will be able to make, with success, a simple damper which is evenly cooked (to be used as a base for sweet or savoury bread recipes of your choosing).

Assessment Criteria:
Post images of your damper making process. The following snaps must be included:
1) An image of your ziplock preparation (pouring in the water, forming the dough)
2) Forming the dough in your billy can
3) Suspending your billy can over the heat source
4) The whole, cooked damper
5) The sliced, cooked damper

Ensure the date and location are also included in your post

1. At home you will need to place all of the ingredients in a sandwich ziplock bag. Gently expel air and seal the bag. Take it with you into the bush, along with the remaining tools listed in order to make your damper.


2. (Not pictured as these are required skills) Build your small fire for cooking. The surface area you will need to clear should be 2x2m for safety reasons, the actual surface area required for your fire should be no more than approx. 30x30cm.
You want the heat source to be mostly hot coals and very little flames should emerge. You will be suspending the damper above the fire so shallow flames should not be too much of an issue.

3. Gradually add water to the damper mix and stir with your spoon in moderation. You will require a very small amount of water to make the dough.

It is difficult to determine exactly how much water is needed because there is no standardised way of measuring this in the bush, so you will need to use your own judgement. One may argue that you could measure the water at home and take it with you, but I believe the best way to learn is to judge for yourself - Being able to improvise makes you a more skilled bush cook!

Once the dough starts to come together, stop stirring with your spoon, expel air from the bag and seal it. Then begin to gently knead/ form your dough from the OUTSIDE of the ziplock. As it comes together, the dough should come away quite easily from the ziplock bag. This indicates you have the correct consistency.

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4. When the dough is ready, turn it out into your billy by simply turning the bag inside out. Your hands are still clean, aren't they? Dirty hands is usually what puts people off making bread in the bush. No dirty hands here!
Use your spoon to mould/ form your dough into a rough ball shape. Now you're ready to cook.

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5. Suspend the billy above the fire, ensuring the base of the billy is about a palm's width above the heat source. After five minutes check that the dough is not sticking to your billy. You can do this by gently levering it up at the edges with your long-handled spoon. Check again after another five minutes, it should be starting to brown on the bottom. You can flip it over and let it brown for another five minutes. The damper is ready when you tap it in the middle and it sounds hollow.

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6. Cut your damper up and serve it with whatever spreads or toppings you like. My favourite for sweet damper is plenty of butter with raspberry jam!

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7. When you are done, extinguish your fire and remove its remains (when it is safe to do so), 'LNT' (Leave no trace!). Ensure you re-seal your ziplock bag and take it and any other rubbish with you.

TIP: Remember you must comply with all state and local fire restrictions when partaking in this activity.

1. How will I know if the damper requires more cooking?
If you tap the damper after ten minutes and it does not sound hollow inside, it is probably still a little raw in the middle. Do not cut it open - this will dry it out. Rather, stick the sharp point of your knife into the thickest part and if the blade comes out with wet dough on it, leave it for another five minutes. Clean the blade, test again - when the blade comes out clean, your damper is ready.

Questions: Please PM BushChef with any questions about this project :sorrriso:
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