Cooking with Teff
Teff flour can be used in baking in a multitude of ways whether you’re going gluten free or just looking to add some nutrition to your diet. Because teff flour is gluten free, you can’t substitute 1 cup of teff flour for 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Gluten free flour blends usually contain several ingredients that work together to achieve the texture, color, and taste that you’re looking for in your baked goods. Usually there is a light flour with a high starch content like tapioca starch, corn starch or arrowroot powder and then more dense flours for example rice, sorghum or teff flour. Experimenting with the different types of flours gives you different flavors and textures which can be extremely frustrating or fun depending on how you look at it!
Teff flour can be mixed with other gluten free flours or mixed with all purpose flour depending on your needs.
If you are familiar with mixing your own gluten free flours, try substituting teff flour for one of the more dense flours such as buckwheat. From there you can adjust to your taste. Since teff is rather dense, you may need to increase your leaveners eg. baking soda, baking powder or yeast.
When we make delicate baked goods, we reach for the ivory teff flour. The lighter color ensures we don’t overcook anything and it has a lighter and more delicate taste than the brown teff flour. The exception to this rule is when we’re working with chocolate. The nutty, brown teff pairs well with chocolate especially in quick breads like the chocolate loaf.
- Many people use xanthan gum as a binder in their gluten free baking. When I first started out, I definitely used it a lot, but as I’ve explored other options (ground flaxseed and chia), I’ve found that xanthan gum gives the bake a bit of a sticky and thick texture. Flaxseed has been my favorite gluten free binder as I use it in flaxseed “eggs” – 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal + 3 tablespoons water. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it’s a gel like consistency.
- If you aren’t gluten free but want to explore using teff flour, you can mix in teff to your all purpose flour! I usually substitute about 10% of my all purpose flour with teff. The most accurate way to do this is by weighing out the all purpose flour that the recipe calls for, take out 10% of the weight, weigh out that amount in teff flour, and mix your flours! For example, if a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, that weighs about 300 grams. 10% of 300 is 30 so you would end up with 270 grams of all purpose flour and 30 grams of teff flour.
- Teff is a very dense flour and absorbs a lot of moisture. It takes very little teff to soak up all the liquid in your dough. Our teff bread recipe looks like a cake batter and you have to pour it into the loaf pan! When you’re experimenting with teff in new recipes, add in small amounts while you stir it in as it may form a dough faster than you think.
- Patience. There is always a lot to learn when working with a new ingredient. If experimenting with teff is your first venture into gluten free baking, you will very quickly learn it does not act like wheat flour! Some websites assure that mess-ups are edible and kids won’t care. Unfortunately, some of your early efforts may end up directly in the compost pile. The best thing to do is take a deep breath, wipe down the counter and try again.