My latest choice was from the chapter devoted to Australasia, a cuisine that until recently was rather bereft of tasty vegetarian options. Thanks to the influence of Asian and Mediterranean immigrants, creative and imaginative vegetarian options are now common place. Tempted first by Garlic and Goat's Cheese Custards with Fresh Tomato Sauce, and then by a savory cheesecake made with sweet potato, and then again by a Pumpkin and Coconut Soup with Macadamia Pesto, and then by Beetroot Hummus, I finally decided to make this Cheese and Sage Damper bread because the smell of freshly baked bread is truly one of the most soothing of experiences.
This no yeast bread has a long tradition in Australia and was often cooked over the hot coals of a campfire. Somewhat like Irish Soda bread, it is perhaps best described as a cross between a bread and a quick break such as a scone. This modernized version includes Gouda cheese and sage, resulting in a most satisfying side dish.
This is my contribution to this month's Monthly Mingle, an event started by the lovely Meeta. The theme this month is Sensational Sides and Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen Experiments is the hostess this time around.
Cheese and Sage Damper
2 cups of whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of butter, softened
1 cup of grated Gouda cheese
3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of dried sage
1 cup of milk, plus a few teaspoons for brushing the top of the bread
2 teaspoons of poppy seeds
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Alternately, you can lightly butter the baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Rub the butter in with your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly. Now stir in the cheese and sage. Gradually stir in the milk until a dough forms.
On a lightly floured board, knead the dough for a few minutes until it is smooth. Shape the dough into a circle that is roughly 7 inches in diameter and 1 1/2 inches thick. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Using a long knife, score the dough into 8 wedges, nearly cutting it all the way through.
Brush the top with milk, sprinkle with poppy seeds and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for rough 25 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold.