butter, flour, milk

Nana no hats: Corrie’s nanalicious recipes from yesteryear, 108pp.
recipes by Corrie Lee and edited by Ita Buttrose
CorriLee Foundation, Edgecliff NSW, 2013
Cooking on page 32

In 2008, Tanya Lee started the CorriLee Foundation to stage major events and charitable fundraisers that try to bring together existing charities.

The foundation is named for her paternal grandmother, Corrie Frances Lee. Sadly, that grandmother died this year just before her 97th birthday.

This cookbook is in support of the Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation. All the recipes are by grandmother, Corrie Lee. And the title’s reference to ‘no hats’ means that nana’s ‘restaurant’ doesn’t have, or need to have, hats or stars to indicate quality.

Page 32 is in the chapter called ‘Nana’s specials’. Damper is an Aussie classic.

damper with minestrone


oil spray
2 tbsp butter
¾ cup milk
2 cups self-raising flour
½ tsp salt

damper mixture damper dough with knife damper to bake baked damper

Pre-heat oven to 200°C and grease a baking tray with oil spray.

Melt butter in a saucepan and add the milk.

Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the flour and pour in milk. Mix with a knife to form the dough.

Turn on to a lightly floured board. Dust top of dough and hands with flour. Lightly knead and shape into a round. Place on baking tray.

Bake for 25–30 minutes until the top is golden brown.

How it played out
I made this damper exactly as written. I even mixed the dough with a knife. In the notes, Tanya Lee said she had no idea why her ancestor did it this way when she was growing up. I don’t either, but I stirred it with a knife anyway.

Lee also recalled that her grandmother baked the damper in the hot coals and ashes of an open fire. I have an open fireplace and a wood stove, but I made this during the summer months, so had no interest in firing up anything except the electric oven.

I took this bread, as well as a batch of minestrone soup, to a friend’s house for lunch. Tam (my friend) has just had her second child and her folks were visiting to support her for the first month. I thought it was a nice way to catch up, with them not having to do too much more than set the table. (I also took a couple of cheeses and a loaf of my homemade rye sourdough bread).

Nana no hats cookbook

The breads and soup (not a page-32 recipe) were great successes. We demolished all of it. I was especially surprised by how cake-like the damper was. Lovely texture and colour, and oh-so delicious with soup.

This will become my go-to recipe when I need bread in a hurry. If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I usually make bread with sourdough starter that takes up to 14–18 hours to mature to the baking stage. This quick fix was very helpful and tasty for me.

Finding new varieties and flavours of bread is one of the joys of our far-flung travels. Have a look at this small bakery—most likely run by mother and son—on a back street in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.

baked damper


About leggypeggy

Intrepid overland traveller, keen photographer, avid cook—known to jump out of airplanes and do other silly things. Do not act my age.
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24 Responses to Damper

  1. weggieboy says:

    I’m reminded of the woman who always prepared a roast by cutting off one end. One day someone saw her do this and asked her why she did it and asked the obvious question: Why??! It made no sense! The woman didn’t know why, but it was something she learned to do from her mother. One day she asked her mother why she always cut off the end of the roast when she prepared it for the oven. Her mother replied that her roast pan was a bit small, and that was how she made it fit. Oh! From that time on, the daughter didn’t cut off the end of the roast.

    • leggypeggy says:

      That’s such a good story. Thanks for sharing it and reminding us that some of our cast-in-concrete ideas are based on make-do options. 🙂

      • weggieboy says:

        I can’t remember where I heard it – I think it was public radio – but the lady telling the story was relating a behavior like the one you mention, and I thought you’d enjoy another example! I really enjoyed the post today, incidentally, and that looks like a simple and tasty recipe!

      • leggypeggy says:

        It’s a great story. So glad you thought to mention it here.

  2. Bread, the magical word 😀
    I will try this recipe for sure, delicious and simple, appreciate so much!

  3. Love that the cookbook has been published in support of Alzheimer’s research. My mom suffers as well. It took a bit of reading to realize that the damper was the bread – hilarious how we don’t exactly speak the same language even when it’s still English. Great post, Peggy – culture and food, can’t miss.

    • leggypeggy says:

      Oh my, the damper confusion gave me a good laugh. And yes, it’s important to support Alzheimer’s research. Poor John’s Aunt Esther, who lived with us for eight years, had dementia the last few years she lived with us. When we could no longer care for her, she went into a nursing home.

  4. Nana knows best. In this household both Oma and Opa know best.

  5. What is your process for finding new cookbooks and do you have an entire library filled with your favorites? This one is such a unique gem! It seems to tell the story of a great family and supports SUCH an important cause that is also dear to my family as well. (I also didn’t know damper was bread. Love learning new terms like this!)

    • leggypeggy says:

      I have more than 800 cookbooks at home, plus I borrow books from friends and check out books from the library. At this rate, I’ll never run out of recipes.

      I’m so glad you found this recipe interesting. Damper is a common bread, especially in the Australian bush (outback). You can put the dough on a stick, on a shovel, or in a cast iron pot and cook it over hot coals.

  6. Peggy this is amazing ! I love the story behind this. I had no idea what damper was before I read this post, in fact I had never heard of it. Thanks for sharing this. I definitely will be making this 🙂 and soon 🙂

    • leggypeggy says:

      It is so easy to make and rather cake-like in texture. Let me know how it turns out.

      By the way, Poor John says that when he was on camps as a child, they’d make individual dampers, wrap the dough on a stick and then cook it over the campfire. After they pulled the stick out, he remembers filling the hole with jam.

  7. Robert Henderson says:

    An excellent looking damper Peggy. Flour it well on the outside and also cut a cross on the top before you bake. To be really traditional, enjoy with butter and Cocky’s Joy (golden syrup).

  8. Kelly@WildfloursKitchen.com says:

    Is there anything more wonderful than the smell of fresh bread baking? 🙂 Looks heavenly!!

  9. chefkreso says:

    Lovely post and a tasty recipe!

  10. blondieaka says:

    It is funny I was talking about dampers the other week and how we used to put the dough around a stick and roast over the camp fire…and now your post…memories 🙂

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