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Food and Cooking

Damper Recipes: Try Australia’s survival bread

Damper Recipes: Try Australia’s survival bread

“Have you heard of Damper? It’s an Australian bread that’s made using few ingredients and cooked in a campfire. Stockmen and drovers would make it using their basic camping rations.” from Alex in SurvivalCommonSense.com Comments

by Leon Pantenburg

Actually, I had not heard of Damper, but I never need much excuse to experiment with survival foods, and asked Alex for a recipe.

“Leon, I think there are as many Damper recipes as there are cooks, and nobody agrees on what the real one is,” Alex replied. ” The basic recipe uses flour, baking powder, salt and milk, and is cooked in a campfire (either in a pot, or wrapped in foil, or suspended on a stick, or straight on the coals). It’s usually served with jam or honey or something similar.

“My great uncle was a drover, and he used to make it for us when he visited. We never could get his recipe straight – whenever we asked, he’d just grab handfuls of ingredients and say:  ‘You just add a bit of this and a bit of that…’ His came out perfect every time. Ours didn’t.”

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Every prepper, survivalist or emergency preparedness enthusiast should have a variety of these simple, tasty recipes as part of their survival kit! Food is a basic survival requirement, but sometimes, even hunger can’t overcome  monotony. Eat the same thing, day after day, and some people might just quit eating.

So survival cooking, of necessity, must be simple and tasty! It makes sense that every region has an emergency-type  ration based on simple ingredients such as flour or meal.

Bannock, that staple among trappers and traders in the Northwest in the early to late 1800s,  probably originated in Scotland. “Ramrod rolls” were common in the Confederate Army because of  a lack of  options. In this recipe, a cornmeal dough was wrapped around a stick or ramrod, and toasted over a campfire.

Fry bread became a favorite among some Native

Hardtack, a very simple, long-lasting survival ration, is very easy to make and has the texture and consistency of a fired brick!

American tribes after they were forced onto reservations and issued flour and salt for rations. Hardtack was a standard American military ration for over 200 years.

Since Australia was colonized by Great Britain, I’d guess Damper is a variation of a popular English bread.

Regardless, Damper is easy to make, and don’t over-think it! In any of the following recipes, mix the dry ingredients together, add the milk or water and form a smooth dough. Don’t knead too much. Then, either make biscuits or a larger loaf, and bake it however you want to. It look really cool (and is a great kids’ activity in camp) when the dough is rolled around a stick and toasted over a campfire. Put peanut butter in the hole, and you have a delicious, warm sandwich.

Another recommended  idea is to amend the flour with one tablespoon of soy flour; one tablespoon of dried milk and one teaspoon of wheat germ per cup of white flour. This combination makes a complete protein of the flour, and turbocharges the nutritional value of the bread.

Here are a few Damper recipes that could work well in your survival kit:

Plain Damper

2 c self-rising flour (If you don’t have self-rising, add 1-1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt to every cup of regular or

all-purpose flour)

2 tsp baking powder

pinch salt


Mix dry ingredients together first, then add water to make a soft dough. Knead until the dough sticks together, but not too long or the Damper will get tough. In a conventional oven bake at about 375 degrees about 20 minutes, or  until the edges start to brown.

Standard Damper

2 c self-rising flour

1/2 tsp salt

1-1-1/2 c milk

2 tsp butter

2 tsp sugar

Follow standard cooking directions.

A Damper camping recipe from Cheryl
  • 4 c self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 tsp chives
  • 1 tsp crisp bacon, crumbled
  • 1 small onion


Rub the butter into the flour. Add salt. When it looks like crumbs, add water and the rest of the ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon until it is a sticky dough. Turn out on to a floured board and mold into a round. Place in a well-greased cake tin and cut across to make 8 or 10 servings. Bake (at 35 degrees) for 20 minutes or it sounds hollow when you tap on it. Turn out and serve hot with butter. (Recipe courtesy of About.com. camping.)


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View Comments (7)


  1. Shannon

    01/20/2016 at 03:49

    The way we did it was a hole in the ground throw in rocks when you down coals throw your damper on top in Dutch oven or wrapped in foil and it morning warm bread.

  2. Leon

    01/15/2016 at 17:56

    The recipe is tasty and easy.

  3. Brian Wallace

    01/09/2016 at 02:57

    I stumbled upon this post by accident, but I remember making Damper from my youth. I am going to try it again this weekend 🙂 Nice write-up.

  4. Leon

    07/11/2014 at 08:58

    Glad you liked it – simple is good!

  5. Carrie LeighAnna

    07/10/2014 at 14:56

    I just made the plain Damper and it was delicious! I was looking for a 2 ingredient bread (though I was thinking just flour and water), when I happened upon this recipe. My husband and I are cutting down our grocery budget drastically for the next little while and I was looking for easy, inexpensive options like this one. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  6. Bill

    11/13/2013 at 16:29

    While I was in the Navajo Nation in Arizona last September, I had Lamb Stew with Navajo Fry Bread at a restaurant in Kayenta. The meal was very good and I really liked the fry bread. I had never heard of it before then, so I started looking for recipes and videos on making it. The recipes are many, but most are very similar to bannock or damper. All have flour, baking powder and salt. Some have milk or dry milk and some have a bit of oil or shortening. Most are pan fried in a thin layer of shortening or lard. What I found most interesting is that all are kneaded and then made into a thin disk by hand. Most of the cooking was done over an open fire in a cast iron frying pan. The grease is very hot, almost to smoking, when the disk is put into the pan. It quickly browns and is turned over to finish. A few holes are poked in the disk so that it won’t trap steam underneath while cooking. The bread is fished out of the pan with a stick and then drained. The bread that I had did not have any appearance of being fried and it was delicious.

  7. Blake

    10/21/2013 at 17:59

    Great post Leon.

    Something to make this weekend.


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Food and Cooking

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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