Damper is a delicious and super easy Australian quick bread! This Pumpkin Damper Quick Bread is a no yeast, no-knead bread, that is ready in under an hour!
Flavored with fresh pumpkin and feta; this savory quick bread is delicious warm from the oven or leave it to cool and then spread with butter.
Learn how to make Aussie damper with this easy recipe that can be adapted to include what you have at home!
What is Damper?
Damper is a traditional Australian Bread. Swagmen, drovers, or bushmen traditionally made it with just flour and water and then cooked in a camp oven (large cast iron pot) over coals. It is what we would call "Bush Tucker."
While it is still a popular camping recipe, it also makes a super easy quick bread that you can make at home in the oven.
The name is said to come from 'dampening down the fire,' which is what people would do at night so that the hot coals smoldered until morning, ready to be reawakened with oxygen and a fresh log or stick.
What is quick bread?
Quick bread is the term given to bread that uses something other than yeast or eggs as a raising agent.
With this pumpkin damper, the raising agent is baking powder. This is either added to the recipe or comes within the flour if you are using self-raising flour.
You can make sweet or savory quick breads, and they are a great addition to so many meals!
Making Pumpkin Quick Bread
To start, combine flour, salt, and baking powder and then add in chopped butter. Rub this together to form a breadcrumb-like mixture. Or pulse combine it in the food processor.
This recipe uses fresh pumpkin, which needs to be grated. You can either do it by hand with a box grater or bring out the food processor. Squeeze out any excess moisture from your veg before continuing.
This grated pumpkin is combined with crumbled feta, the flour mixture and tossed until each strand is coated with the flour.
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Then add the milk to the mixture and stir to just combine. You don't want to work the flour too much (so there is no need to knead) as this will give you a denser bread.
The mixture will be a little sticky but shouldn't be wet. If you have a very dry mix, you can add an extra tablespoon or so of milk, but be sure not to make the mixture too soft.
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Once combined, tip it out the pumpkin damper dough onto a lined baking sheet and with floured hands to form it into a disk (roughly 9 inches/23 cm wide).
You can flatten the top and then use a floured knife to mark the top of the bread (see picture), or you flatten slightly but leave it as a rough, craggy top. I find it cooks more evenly in the oven when flattened and marked, so I do that at home, but when we are camping, it just gets cooked as a rough mass.
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The damper bread is then baked in the oven for 45-50 minutes until it sounds hollow on the bottom and is golden on the top.
Let the bread sit for 10 minutes before cutting it. Enjoy warm from the oven or allow to cool and slice it thinly to spread with butter.
As written in the recipe card, this recipe calls for all-purpose flour (plain flour) if you only have self-raising flour then you can use this instead. Just omit the baking powder and use ½ teaspoon of the salt instead.
You can use any pumpkin you like for this recipe, or mix it up and use different vegetables (see below in ingredient substitutions for more info)
Pumpkin - you can use any pumpkin here or mix it up and use butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, or a mixture of them. You need a total of 3 cups of grated veg for the recipe. Once you have measured 3 cups, don't forget to squeeze any excess water out of the veg.
Feta - feta is an excellent salty addition, but it doesn't melt. Feel free to swap this for a melty cheese like mozzarella balls or cubes of cheddar or monterey-jack. If you are using a less salty cheese, then add ¼ teaspoon extra salt.
What to serve fresh pumpkin quick bread with
This Pumpkin Damper is delicious with just about any meal! We often have it for breakfast with eggs! But some great meals to add it to include:
- Creamy Chicken Chili Pasta
- Easy Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup
- Chicken Sausage, White Bean and Kale Soup
- Red Lentil Soup with Lemon and Rosemary
- Creamy Tomato Chicken and Chorizo Pasta
- Anything with gravy! Either Brown Gravy or White Gravy
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Pumpkin Damper Quick Bread
- 3 cups grated pumpkin - see note 1
- 3 cups AP flour - see note 2 for self raising flour
- 1½ tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup fetta
- ¾ cup milk
- Preheat the oven to 340ºF/170ºC
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper/baking paper (or lightly grease it)
- Grate the pumpkin and then transfer to a sieve. Squeeze as much water as you can from the grated pumpkin.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Add in the cubed butter and use your fingers to rub it together to form a coarse crumb. Or you can put it all into a food processor and use the pulse function to combine it.
- Add the grated pumpkin and crumbled feta to the flour and lightly toss to coat all the pumpkin in flour (see post above for picture)
- Add in the milk and stir with a spoon until just combined, don't overwork it. The mixture will be slightly sticky. (see note 3)
- Tip the dough out onto a lined baking sheet and with floured hands, pat it gently to form it into a disk (roughly 9 inches/23 cm wide).
- Flatten the top slightly and use a floured knife to mark the top of the bread (see post above for picture), or you flatten slightly but leave it as a rough, craggy top. (see note 4)
- Baked the bread for 45-50 minutes until it sounds hollow on the bottom and is golden on the top.
- Let the bread sit for 10 minutes before cutting it.
- Enjoy warm from the oven or allow to cool and slice it thinly to spread with butter.
- You can substitute some or all of the pumpkin for different vegetables, just be sure to end up with 3 cups of grated veg. I like to include:
- butternut squash
- sweet potatoes
- If you only have self-raising flour then you can use this instead. Just omit the baking powder and use ½ teaspoon of the salt instead.
- You don't want to work the flour too much (so there is no need to knead) as this will give you a denser bread. The mixture will be a little sticky but shouldn't be wet. If you have a very dry mix you can add an extra tablespoon or so of milk, but be sure not to make the mixture too soft.
- I find it cooks more evenly in the oven when flattened and marked, so I do that at home, but when we are camping, it just gets cooked as a rough mass.