If you happen to be a stockman on one of those vast Australian cattle ranches when you work out in the bush for days and days on end, you have to be a pretty self-reliant type. As long as you have a billy can to make tea, a pot to cook the stew in, a bit of beef and the wherewithal to make some kind of bread, you can survive – I wouldn’t exactly say happily, but at least you won’t starve.

Damper bread is very, very simple to make, but you need what they call a camp stove. A camp stove is a cast-iron pot with a lid, probably about 30.5–36 cm (12–14 inches) in diameter, with sides about 10–12.5 cm (4–5 inches) high, like a big Le Creuset stewpot, preferably the enamelled kind. And, by the way, this is not a far-fetched recipe, it is the sort of thing that if you are on a camping holiday or pretending to be self-sufficient in the wastes of rural Surrey, you could easily make.

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Ingredients

  • 3 handfuls of self-raising flour
  • 1 handful of powdered milk

Method

And into those you pour between 1 and 2 cans of lager. You knead it all into a wet dough and plop it into your pot, and put on the lid. Then set the pot on to the embers of the wood fire that you have previously lit. Drag the embers up the sides of the pot and sit back to watch the sunset.

It takes between 30 and 40 minutes to cook, depending on the amount of dough you have in the pot and how hot the coals are. Traditionally, in the bush, the bread is then sliced hot and smeared with syrup.

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