Nothing more rustic than the bush bread made by Australian Aboriginal women by Diana Dan
My first post at The Rustic Blog is beginning with one the oldest way of living. Australian Aborigines have been hunters and gatherers for thousands of generations during a very long time in the human history. So it is exciting and appealing to know stories about how the original inhabitants of this big Island-continent were acquiring skills to cook and use different native foods.
I guess, as well as other accidents due to human frailty, toxic seeds, such as Cycas media or Moreton bay chestnuts could have poisoned an Aboriginal young girl or a little boy when they ate it for the first time. The striking color of many bush-food is a temptation for humans to pick up. Have you thought how you would survive even a couple days in the remote bush?
Indigenous women learned how to detoxify some seeds and roots soaking and leaching in running water prior to grinding. They also used "paperbark', the bark of Melaleuca trees, for wrapping food and cooking them in the hot ashes of a fire, it was the way to make bush bread using many kind of seeds and sometimes nuts.
The smell of bread's dough baking slow has a deep pleasure for all of us, hasn't it?
Here are two of the more traditional bush bread recipes:
Aboriginal Style Bread
Aboriginal women had an expert way of making bread from seeds, roots and corms of plants. It always was a heavy task. Firstly, it involved collecting seasonal seeds or roots and then preparing these into flour using a rock millstone, which seems have been proven to be used more of 50.000 years ago.
As an ingenious manner of collecting many seeds, Aborigines used to open the harvester ants' nets and after drying the seeds that the ants had collected and husked, then it was possible to prepare the flour and the dough.
- Mix and crush seeds using a millstone to create flour and then add water slowly until a stiff dough is formed.
- Pat the dough into a round shape.
- The Aborigines would bake the dough in the ashes of the fire. The crust, dirty with ashes, would be torn away. After this the small loaves could keep for several days if the group was traveling for some time.
Damper or Australian Bush Bread
After many decades an easier way of making fresh bread in the bush was making the original "soda bread" in the ashes of a campfire. Damper was made by bush-rangers, stockmen, drovers and now by recreational campers and travellers.
1. Plain wheat flour, usually a cup, and 2 tsp of soda
2. Salt and/ or some fresh wild herbs
3. Water, about half a cup, a little warm
Mix the flour and the water gradually in a bowl to make the dough a bit stiff, add a pinch of salt and the herbs, then kneed it until the dough has a good consistency and shape.
Now, probably the most difficult, preparing the camp fire, and then when the ashes are flattened the dough must be placed in there for five minutes to cook, turn with fork or stick and cook again about another 5 minutes. Then, the damper should be covered with ashes and cooked for another 15 or 20 minutes until the dough sounds hollow when tapped.
Australia has a harsh climate, most bush foods are small due to small amount of water inside, but these food are full of flavor and also vitamins. Therefore, when you decide to travel to Australia don't forget to taste some of strange native bush foods and try using them to create a truly Australian meal.
May be you are interested in looking for more information on this subject, here there are some interesting websites: