“No yeast and can’t take more than 1.5 hours to prepare and bake through”. That was the gist of this month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge (hosted by Lisa of Lis! who stepped in at the last minute – thanks muchly!) which called for something quick to bake. I’m not sure about my fellow bakers from other lands but to this Aussie, this sounded like an opportunity to make damper!
I haven’t baked damper for the longest time. The last time would have been during a school camp when an open fire and correct equipment were on hand. I can’t say I’ve seen damper being sold in shops in recent years either. Over ten years ago I very much enjoyed a Spinach and Feta Damper that the local Brumby’s bread shop sold when the franchise first started up in WA and their product range was actually interesting (anyone remember their hazelnut brioche loaves?).
It’s a shame damper is so underrated at the moment but fortunately it is very easy to make and enjoy at home. Damper is basically a soda bread traditionally cooked over coals or a camp fire. It was (and probably still is) the staple of Australian stockmen and drovers and also prepared by our indigenous people using native seeds and the like. Plain damper is often eaten with a good lashing of golden syrup. I think butter should be thrown in too :)
For this challenge, I decided to use up some ingredients that had been lying around idly and baked up a savoury damper flavoured with goats cheese and caramelised onion. I used my Thermomix to prepare the dough but given how easy damper is to make, you can easily get the ingredients together in a bowl and apply some elbow grease to make a good dough.
Goats Cheese & Caramelised Onion Damper
Note: I used Beerenberg Farm’s caramelised onion but you can make your own with my recipe for Caramelised Shallots, but using onions instead although shallots would work really nicely too!
60g soft goats cheese/curd
2 tbsp caramelised onion
1 tsp baking powder
290g plain flour
pinch of salt and pepper
To Make: Pre-heat oven to 190C. Warm milk, goats cheese and onions together in Thermomix on 50C, Speed 1 for 4 minutes. Add flour, salt/pepper and baking powder to bowl and use kneading function to combine ingredients. Dough should be easy to remove from bowl. If it’s too sticky, add 20g of flour and knead again until manageable. Place rounded ball of dough into a small pan (round or loaf) lined with baking paper and bake for 35-40 minutes. You’ll be able to smell the onion as it’s nearly ready :) Remove from oven when done and allow to cool. Slightly. Slice and enjoy.