Rosemary and Cheese Damper


Each year we spend Good Friday gathered at my in-laws for lunch, where we feast on seafood and salads.  As is often the case, we eat far too much and are over-full, as none of us can resist a second helping of whatever delicious dish each one of us has contributed to the day.

We're a large family, so my sisters-in-law and I plan ahead and organise what we're each going to prepare so we don't double-up.  My mother-in-law is in charge of the fish, and cooks flathead, snapper and whiting.  My husband's youngest sister prepares the prawns, and his eldest sister, who is an amazing baker, bakes a selection of sweets for dessert.  This year we each prepared a salad, and I baked a couple of loaves of this damper.

I like to use buttermilk, as it makes for a lighter dough.  Just be sure when you turn it out on the bench to knead it, you only do it for as long as it takes to come together to form a ball, to keep the loaves as light as possible.

Had it not been Good Friday, I would have added crumbled slices of grilled prosciutto to the damper, which is also delicious.  If you decide to do this, grill eight to ten slices of prosciutto until crispy, allow to cool, then crumble them by hand into the flour mixture, together with the rest of the ingredients.

Ingredients
4 cups self raising flour
60 grams butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup grated tasty cheese, firmly packed
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
4 large sprigs rosemary
teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup water

Method
Pre-heat a fan-forced oven to 220C.

Line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside.

Sift flour into a large bowl and add the chopped butter, rubbing it into the flour using your fingertips until it is fine and crumbly.

Remove leaves from rosemary sprigs and finely chop them.  Set aside two teaspoons' worth, and add the rest to the flour mixture.

Add the dried chilli flakes and cheeses to the flour mixture and combine.

Mix the buttermilk and water together in a small jug.  Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the liquid all at once.  Mix together using a butter knife until it comes together in a soft sticky dough.

Lightly flour the benchtop and turn the dough out.  Separate the dough into two equal halves.  Knead each very gently until it just comes together and then press each into a round.  Place each round onto a tray.  Brush each round with a little milk and sprinkle over the reserved rosemary.

Bake each loaf for approximately 25 to 30 minutes.  Once cooked, remove trays from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.

Cut each loaf into eight wedges and serve with butter.

These loaves are delicious when warm, but also freeze well so you can enjoy them at a later date.

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