In colonial Australia, 'damper' and sheep meat were the daily food for settlers and travellers in the bush (like Cabbagetree Bill in Letty's Christmas). Damper got its name from being cooked on a fire which had been 'damped' down with water so the dough could roast on hot coals.
Damper dough is easy to make. In 1841 it would usually be made without butter and milk, but here is a tastier version, a bit like scones:
- 3 cups self-raising flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
Mix flour and salt. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers. Add liquid. Knead dough on a floured board and pat into a round shape. Put on a greased baking tray and cut an X on the top. Bake 30-40 minutes at 190oC.
If you are camping out, you can cook the damper in a greased Dutch oven (that's a heavy iron pot) in the coals of your campfire. Or you can wrap thick spirals of damper around a stick and toast them over the coals. Be patient - it takes a lot longer than marshmellows. If you put the damper near flames it burns on the outside.