The Moonshiner, The Man from Outback and Home at Sundown are just some of the books Lucy Walker wrote about life and romance in the Outback. Of course damper , Australian soda bread, was baked in the coals by hunky Australian stockmen. An iconic Australian dish, it is a great idea for outdoor picnics, and where it used to be eaten with some dried or cooked meat, these days it can have other ingredients added in and eaten with honey, syrup or jam. Aboriginal women traditionally baked this ‘bush bread’ with grains and nuts they were familiar with, and today damper bread is even available in bakeries in Australia.
If you don’t want to buy damper bread, next time you have a barbecue, allow the kids to make their own damper, add it onto a stick and allow them to cook or bake it over the fire. All it requires is a cup of self-raising flour, a tablespoon of butter, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of sugar, a tablespoon of butter and a cup of milk. You simply rub the butter with the flour until nice and crumbly, mix the salt, sugar and milk till it forms a dough. Allow the kids to make a snake shape and wrap it around a nice clean stick. Delicious eat with cheese or jam.
I love baking bread, and why not? Its certainly one of the cheapest sources of carbohydrates and is especially nutritious when home baked with wholemeal flour. Yeast is also a valuable source of vitamin B which you’re not going to get with breads made with white flour from the stores.
Last year my trip to Africa took me to the Kruger National Park with friends, and its here that I discovered their ‘mielie’ or corn bread which is served with meat which has been cooked over an open fire and served with salads. I had the privilege of eating this bread hot out the oven so that the butter melted on it. Mouth watering delicious. The bread is so simple to make too and offers a tantalizing sweet and salty combination on the tongue.
All the delicious bread requires to make it is a tin of creamed sweetcorn, a teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of sugar, three eggs, 125 ml of both flour and buttermilk or yoghurt and one teaspoon of baking powder. The friends I was with added in some crushed garlic as well, but this depends entirely on your taste. You simply mix up the ingredients and pour into a greased loaf tin and bake the bread for an hour at 180°C.
I always say that the enjoyment of food is in its presentation, and this yellowish bread looks tantalizingly delicious alongside well cooked meat and a green salad. Be daring, learn your herbs and spices and the basic rules of seasoning and blending, and you’ll also have a delicious, tangy bread to eat with any kind of meal you’re preparing.
Bread requires long time with fermentation with yeast and baking. The techniques of baking different kinds of breads are unique to the type. There are certain types which can be made quickly.
- Buttermilk biscuits – Knead the dough only for 5 minutes. Add buttermilk instead of water to quicken the process of baking. Fold the dough and bake in the oven. Quick snacks are ready and they are tender and yummy.
- Lemon Muffins – Add lemon to the dough and egg. The olive oil will make it soft and tangy. For the full recipe you can read this article.
- Peanut Butter and Banana Bread – This is quick to make and tasty to eat. Peanut butter is put in the dough with banana. Together they make the bread soft and tasty.
- Scones – Less sugar and more egg helps to make these sweeties. They are not very sweet and you can have it even if you have diabetes. A sprinkle of dry fruits increases the fibre content.
- Zucchini-Pineapple Quick Bread – Using pineapple as a flavour and mixing with warm cinnamon makes this tasty bread. Quick to make and nice to eat.
- Pumpkin Bread – This bread tastes best with morning coffee or tea. Light flavour with aroma of fresh pumpkin, this is vintage stuff – right out of grandma’s recipe.
- Coconut Bread – This is a special one. The coconut milk used to knead the dough makes it soft and I have never had softer bread. I love to make this for friends.
Bread making is a nice hobby and I will follow up with something new next time. It will most probably be the sandwitches.
As you already know, I’ve been obsessed with baking for a while now. When looking for something edgy but comforting to bake, I came across a recipe for making rosemary and olive oil focaccia. Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of focaccia but I am a huge fan of rosemary and this recipe just seems so darn interesting, I knew I had to try my hand at it.
Now, this was my first try, so it did not turn out as amazingly as I thought it would, but it turned out well enough for me to know that I will try baking this bread again. I added slightly more salt than suggested, but the bread still turned out quite good. In a moment of inspiration, I added a dash of garlic when I was baking. I found the combination of rosemary and garlic to be incredibly interesting- they complement each other in a way I had not particularly paid attention to before.
Next time I make this bread, I think I’m going to experiment some more. I have found some recipes for rosemary focaccia with red onions that I am certainly interested in trying. What kind of focaccias do you like baking?
So I was getting into the mood of cooking and wanted to look up some good bread made right here in Australia. I gotta tell you there is a few recipes that looked really good and I think I’m going to do some baking in the next couple days to see which one of the damper bread recipes I liked the most. Here’s the recipe I’m going to be trying this week:
- To serve
So hopefully I can get this right as I’ve had a few problems in the past with baking.. I’m not the greatest with cooking at all. But being here in Australia this is a bread that is quite common and well known all over. It’s soft like other breads you find in Europe and Turkey. I’ve tried some while I was in Europe and Turkey and they are quite similar to this Australian bread recipe but sometimes damper bread has a tough crust if you leave it out too long in open air. It’s best to eat it soon after being made or cover it up. Happy Eating!
Traveling has certainly offered me a great deal of enlightenment with respect to bread. One endeavor, exciting and spontaneous, was in Western Africa. I traveled in through the north and found my way into various desert areas in Algeria in which I latched on to a caravan that took me southward into Mali, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Ghana, and eventually to Nigeria. This caravan has some suspicious motives, but carrying me along was a benefit to them as it made them look less suspicious when they approached cities, towns and villages to trade and sell and offer whatever they could for sustenance along the way.
Fortunately, communities seemed to be much more liberal with the expenditure of bread. They had huge ovens located outside that would provide the whole community with bread. They more than happily offered it to us. Sometimes it was too much, but you had to conform to the pleasantry and finish what was put in front of you, no matter the pains it often caused.
This epic journey was as much a surprise to me as it most definitely is to the reader. Each time we approached a new area, they allowed us to bring what we could with and were always hospitable. The bread itself was of a wide variety. Sometimes it was served as part of a meal and other times it was exclusive and meant to be had dry. Occasionally it was in the form of pita, sometimes as a larger block. It could very well have been very hard and tough to eat, but most in the caravan had no qualms jeopardizing the integrity of their teeth for a good nights sleep.
I looked at it a bit differently, but I must say, altogether, I learn an immense deal about bread. How to bake it, the time and care spent, and how much of a community ritual it can be depending on where you are.
As an Australian, one finds that their eating traditions are not necessarily in tandem with the rest of the world. You can only eat so much Vegemite on toast and feel like you are representing culture. Luckily, traveling has opened my eyes up to the usage and styles of bread around the world. Try Europe, for example. In this context, bread cultures offer a wide range.
See the United Kingdom. They have what some might call a sophisticated culture surrounding bread and pastries. It often comes along with tea time and in the form of crumpets. Otherwise, bread is not hugely important when it comes to meals and the likes. Then you cross the channel into France and your world turns inside out with bread. They have certainly mastered this trade. I couldn’t say how long it has taken to reach this point, but it summits all necessary pinnacles of taste and appreciation.
It all starts with the baguette. That long crusty genius of a bread that you might find children using in imitation sword fights on the street. They are on every family table in the morning and play an important role in a successful breakfast. Beyond the baguette you have croissants and chocolate filled wonders that the rest of the world seemingly tries to imitate, but doesn’t quite do the job. Adding a bit of their famous stinky cheese and you are on your way to a pleasant round of meals, usually with breakfast and dinner.
Now we venture into central Europe. Austria, Germany, even Czech Republic. Reaching just north of Italy, another well-known source for bread delectables. Here, we have your typical breakfast bread, often of a wheat variation. That’s a trend i’ve noticed: more wheat in the west, more white in the south. It’s seemingly more healthy and firmer, the critics rush to suggest. It’s nothing so spectacular, but people tend to bake their own, and as far as I’ve found, that’s a feat in and of itself. A culture of self-sustainability, organic production. I see the benefits both to health and the environment and I have to say it’s not a bad model to follow. And, I might add, it tastes mighty fine with a nice sausage from the neighbors farm!