Summer vacation may have ended, but the great outdoors still beckon. Today’s post is a special dispatch from Amelia Crook, an Australia native (and former Martha Stewart staffer) currently road tripping through the West Coast. She shares her recipe for rustic, crusty campfire bread.
I’m in the volcanic Cascade Range in Oregon, and gant, gnarly pine trees circle a small clearing where we’ve set up camp for the night. A stream runs by, providing a surprisingly noisy backdrop to the task at hand: baking bread.
I’m making damper, a simple bread that Australian bushmen made when they spent nights out under the stars. It’s a fun and satisfying way to spend an afternoon in front of a fire, listening to the crackle of the flames and anticipating the warmth of fresh bread dripping with melted butter and jam.
The key ingredients to this recipe can’t be bought at the grocery store. They are: a hunger you can only get after spending the day outdoors; a campfire that you’ve coaxed into existence from a few bits of wood; and a slight chill in the air, inviting you to make something warm.
Stick selection is also important. I’m imagining you are well versed in what makes a good cooking stick from the wonderful American tradition of s’mores, but just in case, a straight, long, and sturdy but not-too-thick branch is best. Use a sharp knife and channel your inner woodsman to whittle the last eight inches of the stick to a clean point.
This dough is very simple, and works just as well without the butter or sugar, but a little decadence goes a long way when camping. I found some locally ground whole-wheat flour and picked up a jar of wild huckleberry jam from Kruse Farms in Roseburg that made this damper taste even sweeter.
- 1 coffee mug of flour (who carries measuring cups when camping?)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbs chilled butter, cut into squares, plus extra for spreading on the bread when cooked
- Handful of raisins
- Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Rub butter into flour mixture to form a crumblike texture. Add raisins and stir through. Add enough water (and more flour, if necessary) to make a smooth dough.
- Divide dough into quarters. Take a piece and roll it in your hands to make a sausage shape. Twist the dough around the whittled end of a long stick. Hover the dough over hot coals, away from flame, until a golden-brown crust forms. It is ready when you tap the bread and it sounds hollow.
- Remove the bread by holding it while you twist the stick out from the middle. Slide some butter and jam into the hole where the stick was and enjoy.
For more simple recipes, check out Amelia’s blog at simpleprovisions.com.au.