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Cheesy Zucchini Damper

by Roy Chambers (follow)
Easy (2855)      Lunch (1770)      Vegetarian (1506)      Simple (966)      Baking (674)      Australian (62)     
This damper combines both zucchini and cheese to make it moist. The result is good enough to eat cold without any condiments, though I will normally serve it hot with butter or cold with a dip such as hummus.

I love dampers. These are a simple shortbread than can be combined with a range of different ingredients to make them moist and more delicious. The damper style is better than using a loaf tin because it allows the bread to expand in all directions, making it lighter. You can cut the top to make it easy to pull apart by hand when served.

I mix the bread in a bowl and shape it into a ball in my hands. This means that I don't have to make a mess rolling the flour out on a kitchen surface.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 8 Slices

1 cup plain self-raising flour
1/3 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
30 g butter, softened
1 medium sized zucchini
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar (optional, good if you serve it cold)
1 - 2 tsp mixed herbs (I used an Italian herb mix)
Around 1/4 Cup milk (depending on how much moisture comes from the zucchini)
Milk, extra, for brushing

Note The cheese makes the damper fairly moist. If you want to add more cheese then add maybe 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of extra baking powder to ensure that your damper rises properly. In fact a lot of things can stop a shortbread from rising properly, from too much moisture in the zucchini to the day's temperature and humidity. So feel free to throw in an extra teaspoon of baking powder to be safe.

Add the flour to a large bowl. I use 1 cup plain to 1/4 cup wholemeal flour. Chop the butter into little cubes and add to the flour.

Using your hands, mix the butter into the flour. The result should look like grains of sand as the flour sticks to together with the butter.

Add in the Parmesan cheese, herbs, sugar and salt, and mix thoroughly.

Using a medium sized zucchini should be enough to make about 3/4 to 1 cup of grated zucchini. Remember if you end up with more zucchini, then you can compensate with less milk.

I have experimented with coarsely and finely grated zucchini and have decided that I prefer the finely grated zucchini in my damper because it gives a more even texture. If you want the zucchini to be much more visible in the bread then grate it coarsely.

Squeeze the zucchini to remove excess moisture and add it to the flour mix. Stir it thoroughly and let sit for a few minutes, so that the flour absorbs the moisture.

Now to get your hands dirty. Coat your hands with flour and start kneading the flour and zucchini mix. As you go, add a little bit of milk at a time. It is a very delicate process and as you knead the bread mix, more liquid will come out of the zucchini, so don't add too much milk at a time.

The result should be a ball of dough that doesn't crack when you fold and knead it, but also not sticky to the touch. If it ends up too moist then just add more flour and keep kneading.

Form it into a nice round ball in your hands.

Place a sheet of baking paper on a flat cooking tray. Put the damper ball in the middle of the tray. Press it down into a nice flat disk. You can also use a more rounded half ball shape as well, but the flat disk will let us pre-cut the damper to make it a pull-apart. Brush the top with milk so that it will nicely brown while baking.

With a knife, cut into the top of the damper across 4 times to make 8 slices, making fairly deep cuts, close to half-way through. When baked you can just pull the damper apart with your hands. Alternatively you can just lightly score the top of the damper to simply provide a guide for where to cut when it is served.

Bake for 30 minutes at 220 degrees Celsius. The photo below is a damper I left in for an extra 5 to 10 minutes to create a more classic crusty damper. The photo at the top of the article was cooked for only 30 minutes. Both could be easily pulled apart by hand.

Damper is great for picnics or even healthy snacks.

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