By: Blonde Two
Where to light a campfire
Please note. Whilst campfires (and barbecues) are a wonderful thing in your garden, or on campsites that give permission, they are NOT suitable for wild camping adventures. Campfires cause long term damage to the natural environment, and (even in damp weather) risk widespread disaster through wild fires.
For more really useful information on what you should and shouldn’t do when wild camping on Dartmoor, we recommend the Dartmoor National Park Authority wild camping page or you could join us this summer on one of our Dartmoor wild camping courses.
What is a damper?
Dampers are not necessarily that chargrilled squidgy stuff on a stick that you remember from Guide or Scout camp. Cooked properly and carefully, dampers (and maybe campers) can taste delicious and be great fun to make. Here’s a simple campfire damper recipe and method I learnt from my sister.
You will need green (living) sticks to cook dampers so that they don’t burn, hazel sticks are a good option, but do get permission before you cut them. Your stick will need to be whittled (more fun) to remove the bark but can be used again after it has been ‘cleaned’ by further whittling.
Lots of kneading is the secret to a good dough (try to wash your woodland hands first or your dough will look grey). There are lots of recipes but a mix of strong bread flour, water and baking powder is a good place to start.
Quick damper dough
If you are short of time or energy, ready-mix pizza dough makes excellent damper dough but remember, it will still need kneading (or knead needing, whichever you prefer).
Cooking your damper
If you wind your damper carefully around your stick you can make a hot bread pocket in which to stuff lots of delicious items once it is cooked. You will have plenty of time to plan your delicious items because dampers need to be cooked over a gentle heat and turned regularly. Test the dough at the end of the stick nearest to you, if that is still squishy it isn’t time for eating yet.
You can put just about anything into or onto a damper. My recent favourite is white chocolate buttons but maple syrup and bananas are also good. If you fancy a savoury treat, why not try olives and feta cheese?
The keys to a good damper are patience and creativity. Remember, campfire cooking takes time, that is what makes it so much fun and so sociable. Please also remember that, although more and more campsites are allowing campfires, lighting fires on open ground is illegal in some places (including Dartmoor) and dangerous in many.
And for dinner – campfire sausage ratatouille
If you’ve enjoyed your campfire damper experience, you might like to try something a bit more ambitious next time. How about a whole meal with our campfire sausage ratatouille?