As a child, I hated mustard, no doubt because my first encounter was with that bright yellow English mustard, spread too thickly on a ham sandwich. Mustard of course comes in all shapes (tubes, plastic bottle, elegant jars) and varieties (grainy, smooth, hot, mild, flavoured). I just counted 4 different mustards in my kitchen, powder, Dijon, wholegrain and some in a yellow squeezy bottle to put on sausages. My palate has obviously matured.
I’ve always liked scones, however, and right now am in a sort of scone baking frenzy as you might have guessed, this being a third post about scones in about as many weeks. My excuse this week is that I had half a carton of buttermilk to use up. I turned as ever to my well used (witnessed by drops of scone mix and falling out pages) Australian Women’s Weekly Muffins, Scones and Breads for inspiration and decided on Little Crusty Cheese and Mustard Dampers.
Damper is the traditional bushman’s bread originally made from flour, water and salt and cooked in the campfire (see Australian Food Timeline for more). It’s basically a type of soda bread, easy to make and not requiring yeast. The little dampers I made were just a wee bit more fancy than this, and the perfect thing to have with a cup of tea in the late afternoon.
There are two parts to the recipe – the basic damper and the essential topping. Pre-heat the oven to 220C, then prepare the basic damper. Sift together 4 cups (600g) self-raising flour and 1 teaspoon of mustard powder (see above for the classic brand) into a large bowl, and rub in 30g butter. Stir in 2 cups (500ml) buttermilk (though the recipe says milk, the buttermilk helps to keep them fluffy) to mix to a soft, sticky dough. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Press dough out into about 1.5cm thickness and cut into rounds with your usual scone cutting implement. Place the rounds, just touching, onto greased oven trays and sprinkle with the topping.
For the topping – melt 30g butter and stir in 2 good spoonfuls of seeded mustard and 120g of coarsely grated parmesan. Spoon a little of this mixture onto the top of each damper. Bake for around 15 minutes.
Verdict: very light and fluffy, very tasty, excellent with some good butter and a cup of tea.
Make again? Yes