Damper is a traditional Australian soda bread prepared by swagmen, drovers, stockmen and other travellers. It consists of a wheat flour
based bread, traditionally baked in the coals of a campfire. Damper is an iconic Australian dish. It is also made in camping situations in New Zealand, and has been for many decades.
Damper was originally developed by stockmen who travelled in remote areas for weeks or months at a time, with only basic rations of flour
and tea, supplemented by whatever meat was available. The basic ingredients of damper were flour, water
, and sometimes milk
. Baking soda could be used for leavening. The damper was normally cooked in the ashes of the camp fire. The ashes were flattened and the damper was placed in there for ten minutes to cook. Following this, the damper was covered with ashes and cooked for another 20 to 30 minutes until the damper sounded hollow when tapped.
Alternatively, the damper was cooked in a greased camp oven. Damper was eaten with dried or cooked meat or golden syrup, also known as "cocky's joy".
Damper is also a popular dish with Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal women had traditionally made bush bread from seasonal grains and nuts, which they cooked in the ashes of fires. It also became a popular dish for recreational campers and has become available in bakeries. Many variations and recipes exist, some authentic, others using the name to sell a more palatable bread product to the urban public.