- 4 cups self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 30g butter
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and lightly rub in the butter. Make a well in the center and pour in all the milk and half the water. Mix with a knife to a medium soft dough, adding more water if necessary. Turn out onto a floured board and knead lightly into a ball. Place on a greased scone tray and pat out to about 23cm in diameter. Cut a cross on the top and place in a pre-heated hot oven (220C/400F) and bake for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to moderate and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the damper sounds hollow when rapped with your knuckles. When cooked, cover with a tea towel.
To cook in foil: divide the dough into three oblong rolls and butter and flour three pieces of double thickness heavy duty foil. Put the damper in the middle and seal the pieces by rolling the edges together, leaving enough room for the damper to rise. Cook completely covered in the hot ashes of a dying fire for about 20 minutes. Remove from the fire, carefully unwrap the damper, and tap it. If it sounds hollow it is cooked, if not, rewrap and cook a little longer.
Twisters: pull off lumps of damper dough and roll between the fingers into strips. Wrap in overlapping circles along one end of a long green stick. Cook, turning over hot coals for 10-15 minutes. The twister should lift off the stick when cooked.
To cook in a camp oven: there should be enough coals in which to half bury the camp oven and also stack them on top of the lid. Place dough in a camp oven then shovel away some coal from the fire. Place camp oven in position - the legs will keep it just above the coals so that the base will not burn. Cover with the lid and heap coals on top. Cook for about 35 minutes.
In Australia, damper and 'billy tea' go together. The story goes that in the gold fields large quantities of tinned meat labelled boeuf bouille were imported from France. As cooking utensils were scarce, the miners put the empty cans to good use, putting wire handles on large cans and calling them 'billy cans', a term we use to this day.