Nothing is more ‘Aussie’ then cooking a damper in a camp oven when camping, but did you know you can also cook damper on a stick? My Mum use to call them ‘green tree twists’, because you use ‘green’ sticks or branches from a tree to cook the damper on. It was always so much fun to sit around the camp fire with a bunch of friends and slowly cook your own damper.
Over the Easter school holidays, I decided it was time to introduce my own children to the fun of ‘green tree twists’ using the damper recipe. Sadly our camping trip was cancelled due to rain and illness, so I pulled the fire pit out of the camper trailer and set it up in the backyard for an evening of camp cooking fun.
3 Cups Self-Raising Flour
5 Level Teaspoons Butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
What you need:
- Fire Pit
- Timber or heat beads
Start a fire in your fire pit 30-40 minutes BEFORE you want to start cooking. What you are looking for is good hot coals, not the flame for camp cooking. Flames will only cook the outside of your damper really quickly, whilst the inside is still raw and gooey. Good hot coals distribute an even, slow heat. Recently I’ve discovered heat beads and let me tell you, they are AMAZING. You’d be surprised at how few are required to generate a good amount of heat (I added six to our fire for green tree twists). I normally do a mix of timber and heat beads, just because I love the smell of wood burning in a camp fire.
Whilst you’re waiting for the coals, get the kids to go ‘stick hunting’. As we were camping out in the backyard, we used green branches from our gigantic rosemary bush. Ideally you are looking for is a stick with a 2cm diameter or more (no more than 5cm, it becomes to difficult to hold). You want something light weight, but strong and most definitely GREEN, as a dried stick will just catch on-fire.
To prep your stick, remove any excess leaves and bark that might ignite or get stuck in the damper dough.
Follow the instructions for the Be A Fun Mum damper recipe. You want the dough to be firm, not too sticky, but also not too dry. Divide the mix into four even little dampers.
Once your fire coals are ready, take a rosemary stick and one of the damper doughs. Roll the dough in the palm of your hands until it is a ‘snake’ like shape. Then get one end of the dough and place over the tip of your rosemary stick and twist it around and around until it is all on the stick. Using one hand, gently squeeze the dough to remove any gaps and ensure an even thickness on all sides.
Cooking the ‘green tree twist’ does take time and a little patience. My two were very keen for the first 5 minutes, then lost interest (they are only little). But that’s OK, I expected that and had set-up a nice little seat for myself so I could finish the job for them. Cooking damper on a stick will take 20-30 minutes of slow cooking. The secret is to slowly rotate the sticks every few minutes, to avoid burning on anyone side.
How will I know it’s ready?
One of the beauties of camp cooking is, even if a little raw in the middle, damper is still yum. I think it’s because it’s just so fun. A hot tip though to check ‘green tree twists’ is to wrap your hand around the damper bread and gently twist. If it is cooked, it should move quite easily, if raw it will be sticky. Your damper should be a nice golden brown colour all over.
To get your damper bread off the stick you need to wrap your hand around the bread (use a towel, it can be really hot) and gently twist and pull. The smell of freshly cooked damper bread will make your mouth water.
Now your damper bread is ready to eat. Damper is delicious with butter and golden syrup, nutella or as a camp garlic bread. It tastes so good you’ll be desperately hiding your damper on a stick from the kids!