Last weekend our friend Amanda invited us to her mother’s farm for a bonfire. I haven’t been to a bonfire in years, there’s not many opportunities to have them in the city, and so I was very excited. I was also excited to go to the farm. I’ll take any excuse to spend time with a cow and some dogs really.
The bonfire was excellent. Sausages on the barbecue, marshmallows toasted (or charred to a crisp) on sticks, too much red wine and way too much smoke inhalation. There is something romantic about waking up reeking of bacon bits.
In the morning, the embers were still hot from the night before and so Amanda’s sister decided to make damper. Damper is a traditional Australian bread made by either wrapping dough around a stick and cooking over a fire or burying a cast iron Dutch oven in hot coals. This particular loaf was made in the coals.
A finished loaf has a dense but hollow sound when tapped, a slight smoky tinge and tastes delicious when eaten smothered in butter and drizzled with golden syrup, especially if the eating is done on a porch in the warming winter sun.
- 3 cups self-raising flour
- Pinch of salt
- 80 grams butter, chilled and cubed
- 3/4 cup water
- Build a bonfire and leave overnight. Or heat the oven to 200℃ (400℉).
- Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the water to the flour mixture and use a round-bladed knife in a cutting motion to mix until the mixture just comes together, adding 1-2 tbs extra water if the mixture is a little dry. Use your hands to bring the mixture together.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for 1-2 minutes or until smooth. Shape into an 18cm disc.
- Put the dough into a foil-lined, flour-dusted cast iron Dutch oven and seal tightly. Bury the pot in the hot coals of the fire and cook for 30-40 minutes until it sounds hollow when tapped.
- Alternatively you can place the disc onto a baking tray, sprinkle with a little extra flour and bake for about 30 minutes.
- Serve warm with butter and golden syrup.