Rosemary and Cheese Damper

Ballad to the damper

Damper is my favourite treat

With butter and jam I love to eat

You fill my tummy up to the brim

You give me energy to muster and swim

Fluffy hot from the open fire

If I said it weren’t great I’d be a liar

So Damper please don’t go a stray

Cause I love to eat you everyday

– Russell Coight

Ok, possibly not the best poem, but don’t let that put you off, damper really is a wonderful bread. Damper is an Australian institution and is the Australian version of soda bread. Although I grew up in New Zealand I first learnt to make damper on a school camping trip. You know the kind of hellish trip where you have to hike into the bush, set up camp, and survive on your own for a few days. Anyone who knows me knows that my idea of camping involves a hotel and hot and cold running water so this was not my idea of fun. I am still convinced this was the teachers’ form of revenge on unruly children…not that I was unruly….not often anyway.

Traditionally damper was only made from a couple of ingredients: flour and water. Although sometimes milk was also added, if available. This made it an ideal food for the stockmen in Australia who spent weeks at a time out in the back country all they had to do was add liquid to the flour and then cook it in the ashes of the campfire… voila (or as they would have said crikey!) there you have a loaf of very simple rustic bread.

This is a great bread to make if you are a bit daunted by using yeast because, well, there isn’t any. The raising agent is self raising flour so in actual fact it’s a bit like a large scone. Originally the bread would have been served with honey or golden syrup and a cup of billy tea. I have added rosemary and cheese to make a savoury version to have with hot soup.


Rosemary and Cheese Damper

Adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly Sweet Old Fashioned Favourites.

Makes one loaf.

  • 525gm self raising flour
  • 30gm butter, chopped
  • 135ml milk
  • Approx 220gm water
  • 4-5 rosemary stalks, (approx. 2 tablespoons), remove leaves from the stalks
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 30-40gm tasty cheese, grated.


Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan or frying pan, add the rosemary and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the rosemary from the oil. Chop rosemary finely. Put aside for later.

Place self raising flour and butter in a mixing bowl. Rub butter and flour together until fully combined.

Add milk and water and combine. I usually use a knife and cut the flour into the liquid.

Turn the dough (which will be sticky) onto a floured bench and knead until dough is soft. You may need to add extra flour if the dough is too sticky.

Add rosemary and knead to combine.

Knead the dough into a tight ball. Place on a baking tray covered with baking paper.

Cut a cross on top of dough.

Cover the top with cheese.

Rest damper for 30 minutes.

Bake @ 210°C for approx. 30minutes. Bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.










27 thoughts on “Rosemary and Cheese Damper

    1. lemongrovecakediaries Post author

      Hi Thalia, it is one of my go to recipes when I am low on ingredients – I should make it more often.. It could be perfect with that delicious looking mac and cheese you have on your blog 🙂

  1. Tiffany

    I love the idea of a bread without yeast (which is always intimidating to me). I’ve never heard of damper, but yours looks deliciously soft and light. The rosemary must make it amazing!

  2. Margot

    I can’t remember the last time I had damper – as a teenager, perhaps!? Though I have such fond memories of it being a really wonderful and delicious thing to cook, sitting around a campfire… always that little bit of ash that seemed to make it through the foil. I love your addition of rosemary and cheese here Karen – I think it’s time we made some for our boys to experience – before they’re all grown up and discover that they’ve not been fully Australianised! 😉

    1. lemongrovecakediaries Post author

      It had been awhile since I had made it too, I just rediscovered it recently when I ran out of yeast, yogurt and buttermilk basically all the essentials for bread or soda bread making and so that is how damper made a comeback to our table.

  3. My French Heaven

    This looks heavenly! Oh how I’d love to dip this in olive oil and balsamic vinegar… 🙂

  4. David

    Count me among the non-Australians who had never heard of a damper! I will have to give this a try, and I bet it is wonderful on a chilly night with stew. Also, I love the cheese and rosemary combination. Yum!

    1. lemongrovecakediaries Post author

      It definitely goes well with a stew on a cold winters night. You will have to wait until winter to try it, I imagine that you don’t have the oven on too much if you can help it at the moment 🙂

  5. TheKitchenLioness

    Karen, I had never heard the word “damper” for a loaf of bread before – it sounds quite cute actually. Your bread is amazing, perfect crumb, wonderful ingredients and great color – what could be better to munch on while enjoying a steaming bowl of soup or a stew. I love that there are alternatives to yeast breads, although I really enjoy baking with yeast, I also enjoy a variety of different kinds of recipes for different kinds of bread! A great post!
    Hope all is going well with the business – you have made some amazing cakes, the pictures you posted om FB took my breath away!

    1. lemongrovecakediaries Post author

      A lot of people make this bread when they are camping but instead of sticking it straight in the ashes they use a cast iron camp oven which goes directly on the fire. If I liked camping I would imagine there would be nothing better than sitting around a fire eating this bread with a hearty stew. The business is coming along, lots of hard work and marketing to get it going but a lot of fun 🙂

  6. mademoisellegourmande

    Looks awesome!! I like the addition of cheese and rosemary, sounds perfect.. 🙂
    I still have a women’s weekly baking book from Australia, great recipes in ther. Maybe I should have a look. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing and ispiring! 🙂

  7. Cathleen

    This looks so utterly delicious! Especially in the last picture, with the slice slathered with butter. The addition of rosemary must make it so wonderfully earthy tasting. I can just imagine eating this with a big bowl of vegetable soup. Mmm.

  8. laurasmess

    Aaron and I love damper. It harks back to childhood days of camping when we both ate damper fresh from an outdoor fire, with ash-dusted tinfoil, lots of steam and melty slabs of butter! So, so good! This rosemary and cheese version looks amazing. It’s like the grown up, less messy (and less charred!) version of damper. The texture looks so perfect; I will definitely give this a go very soon (it’s perfect for these cold winter nights, I’ve been dying in the 1 degree C mornings when attempting to walk to work!) xx


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