I’ve just returned from a visit to my family in Australia. Early settlers there may have made this simple campfire bread. “Damper” as it is called, was made by the Outback stockmen or drovers who mustered their cattle to travel hundreds of miles to market.
Traditionally, the bread is made with water, salt, and flour and baked in a covered cast-iron pan over hot coals. The top of this pan is covered with hot ashes to ensure even baking. The result is a chewy, rather bland bread. It fills an empty stomach, but I decided to experiment.
Using only the staples I had in my pantry, together with herbs and a lemon from the garden, I made two loaves with different flavors. What differentiates damper from other bread is that it has no yeast. The drovers on the move had no time to allow the dough to rise, let alone time to capture the yeast spores in the air to make a starter. But in the home kitchen, there are several ways to make this bread rise without yeast. One is to use baking powder, and the other is to use the action of acid on baking soda to get