Camp Oven Cooking


There is a difference between a traditional damper and a plain damper. If you were asked for a plain damper in a camp oven cooking competition then you can go with a number of ingredients – excluding beer, but that’s another story. A traditional damper has only 3 ingredients. Those ingredients were what the bushman, stockman or swaggie could easily carry, almost always had with him or had access to.


  • 800 grams SR flour;
  • 15 grams salt – we like sea salt flakes;
  • 625mls = 2 ½ cups water


  • Light a fire for coals or count out your heat beads. If you’re using heat beads you can commence to activate them. Usually takes 30 minutes.
  • For Hot Shots use 4 – 5 under and 8 – 9 on the lid.
  • Pre-heat a 10”/4.5 quart camp oven which should take about 10 minutes. You’re looking for an oven temperature of about 200 degrees C. The below recipe is to suit this size oven.


  • Sift flour and salt together 3 times in a bowl large enough to give you room to combine when you add the water.
  • Either, grab a handful of plain flour or use a sieve/sifter to sift a light layer of flour across the base of your pre-heated camp oven. This will be your temperature gauge. Replace the lid and make the damper as below.
  • Form a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the water, mixing together until the mixture tends to cling as a ball around your mixing tool. Make sure you get underneath and pick up all the flour and mix together. The mixture may tend to be a bit damp. That’s better than being on the dry side.
  • Once the mixture comes together spoon out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Roll and gently shape. Do not press down too much.
  • Check the oven temperature – if the flour is a light caramel colour then you’re good to go.
  • You will need both hands to pick up the damper from underneath and place it in the camp oven. Can be tricky.


  • Replace the lid and cook for about 35 minutes.
  • Rotate the base and lid a quarter turn every 5 minutes, especially if there is a breeze about. Lid anti-clockwise, base clockwise, or the opposite if you wish, just be consistent.
  • Use your senses – if you smell something burning, something is burning, it could be your damper – check and adjust the heat source if required. Same applies if you smell (at about 15 minutes) a pleasant aroma of baking, all should be good. Resist the temptation of removing the lid for a look all the time.
  • Check at 30 minutes – insert a thin skewer into the centre – comes out clean it is cooked.
  • Once you’re happy the damper is cooked tip out onto a cake rack and keep out of the breeze.


      • Use a laser heat gun to check the oven temperature. Aim the gun at the collective. This is the high point under the handle on the lid.
      • Leave to cool prior to cutting. If you cut whilst it is hot out of the oven, the damper will tend to fall apart. Makes the best toast for breakfast the next morning and the morning after.
      • You can’t unburn it but you can, if not cooked in 35 minutes, continue to cook a bit longer to finish the cook.
      • If the flour on the base of oven is lighter than caramel, not a problem, you may just need a bit more heat. Darker than caramel to black and smokin, we’ve got some choices. You can clean out and start all over again (don’t put cold water in a hot oven) – I don’t – sift another light layer of flour over the base, place the damper in the oven and either remove from the heat altogether (don’t forget to put it back later) or adjust the heat, keep an eye it.
      • Some cut a cross in the top of the damper when placed in the camp oven – we do and sometimes don’t – your call. I tend to make 3 slashes across the top which I then follow when slicing.

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