Cooking damper is something we do every night when we’re able to have a camp fire, and we get really surprised by how many people don’t know how to cook damper, or are worried about getting it wrong.

We’ve written about cooking damper here, and you can buy our damper cookbook from Kindle (other formats coming soon), but for today, here’s some information on the history of damper.

Damper is one of Australia’s most iconic symbols of bush life.

It was made famous by drovers, who baked this bush bread in the coals of their camp fire, and has been recognised as a staple of bush life for decades.

It is believed that Damper was originally developed by stockmen, who needed a way to carry food with them into remote areas. They’d sometimes be away for weeks at a time with little or no access to supplies, so weren’t able to carry foods that would spoil. Damper, in this case, provided them with a filling food option they could cook easily.

damper cooking history

By simply carrying flour and salt, and having access to water, drovers and stockmen could cook their own bread, using these three ingredients. Traditionally the dough would be cooked straight in the “damped” coals of the camp fire, which is where many people believe the name damper originated. Alternatively, wrapping the dough around a stick and holding it over the flames until cooked was also a common way to cook.

Over the years, it became common to cook damper in cast iron camp ovens, and this is still a common method used today. Recipes have evolved to include the addition of milk, butter and lots of other additions. We’ve included tasty and fun variations in our recipes, and we’re sure damper will remain in Australian life for years to come, especially with its ease of preparation and cooking and the never ending variety that can be achieved.

Whether it’s over the camp fire, or in your home oven, damper is a fun, easy bread, and a great accompaniment to a tasty meal.