My first damper experience was at Biddy Walsh’s Irish Pub in Orange. It was soft, fluffy and warm – a perfect vessel for me to slather a generous amount of softened butter. It was memorable and delicious. I was sold with the idea of damper. My dear friends, if you were not familiar with a damper, it was a traditional Australian soda bread usually cooked over hot coals of a campfire. People who know me would tell you I was far from being a camper. But between you and me, I like the idea of camping food. Baked beans, stew cooked in a cast iron, s’mores … camping looks positively delicious! And maybe, just maybe, it is not a scary notion at all.
Having said that, I was not going to wait around for a camping opportunity to arise in order to make damper. It was a no knead bread that I was eager to try. Yes, no knead! It was a bread making dream for a fuss free baker like moi. Sometimes the joy of baking is about getting your hands dirty. You know, the sensation of sinking your fingers into the soft pillowy dough, kneading, rolling and shaping. But during work days and with some miracles, I uncovered the motivation to bake from scratch, simple processes of measuring, pouring and mixing would suffice. I confess I am not a purist when it comes to baking which led to a home version of cheesy rosemary and pecan damper loaf. This was so savoury, cheesy and buttery! There was no yeast involve (hence, a little denser) and the baking process was as simple as making pancake batter.
And if it looked like a bread, smelled like a bread and tasted like a bread, well my friends, this damper loaf is as good as a bread. Don’t you reckon?