The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Happy Accident-25 lbs of Teff Flour-Part 1 and 2

sharonk's picture

Happy Accident-25 lbs of Teff Flour-Part 1 and 2

Part 1:

I thought I was ordering Teff Whole Grain but I obviously made a mistake somewhere along the line because when my order arrived I opened a 25 lb. bag of Teff Flour! I went back to my original order slip and saw that, indeed, I had ordered 25 lbs. of flour. I just looked at this massive amount of flour and wondered how long will it take to use this up. Ugh.

I usually buy whole grain teff and grind it up as I need it. Teff is a potent high protein seed grain and has been a blessing after learning I had to go off gluten. I also use whole grain teff for a power breakfast. I soak the teff grain the night before, 1 cup teff to 3 cups water, add a little water kefir to boost the enzyme activity, cover and let it sit overnight. The next morning I simmer it for about 15 minutes to cook. Mixed with chia gel, flax seed oil and soaked nuts, I'm off and running. I'll often pour the leftovers into a loaf pan where it becomes like polenta. I'll slice it and toast or saute it. Using spices and herbs it could be made sweet or savory.

Since I was missing my teff breakfasts I ordered some more whole grain, this time only 10 lbs. To my horror, I opened a box of 10 lbs. of teff flour, again! I really must slow down, I'm making way too many mistakes.

Anyway, what to do with my 35 lbs. of teff flour?
My book, The Art of Gluten Free Sourdough Baking, is based on brown rice flour starters. I'd begun to experiment with buckwheat sorghum starters and have had some great results. I figured I better move on to Teff starters so I wouldn't have pounds and pounds of teff flour either stuffed into the freezer or sprouting critters with legs.

I began a new starter using only teff flour and water in a ratio of 1 to 1. I chose this because teff absorbs a lot of water. I usually use teff to thicken and give structure to some bread recipes. I was surprised that this starter was actually very soupy but I continued along with my 1 to 1 experiment, feeding it every 8 hours or so for a couple of days.

I used the bubbly starter to make Teff pancakes and was pleasantly surprised that they were as good as or even better than the rice pancakes! They were naturally slightly sweet with a great cake-like texture. The leftovers were great toasted the next day. Since I can't eat sweet stuff I used them as an accompaniment to a bean stew. I'm sure they would be great with maple syrup or fruit.

Starter Recipe:
Make a starter by mixing equal amounts of teff flour and water. Add a tablespoon of water kefir or other fermented liquid.
Feed every 8 hours or so with equal amounts of teff flour and water.
After 2 days it should be ready to use.

Pancake Recipe:
One cup of starter makes about 4 pancakes.
Add a pinch of salt, 1 tablespoons of any oil or fat and 1 tablespoons ground flax seeds.
Mix let it sit about 10 minutes and cook.
The pancakes will not show bubbles so flip it when it starts to dry out around the outer third.
Sometimes I cover it while it's cooking. It cooks faster and more thoroughly.

My next experiment will be making breads using this teff starter. I'll keep you posted.

Part 2:

After last week’s fabulous teff pancakes I continued building the starter even though I sorely needed a break from bread baking. I was busy and thought it would be a good opportunity to practice growing starter in the fridge as this would cut the feedings from 3 times a day to twice. 


The starter grew beautifully with a mild aroma. I would take it out for about an hour in the morning, feed it, let it sit another hour or so and put it back in the fridge for 12 hours. I’d repeat the sequence at night before bed. I noticed some thickening and some small bubbles but nothing dramatic.


I had been thinking about creating bread that was mildly sweet without any sweetener beyond 1 teaspoon of stevia powder. I used small amounts of carob and maca (a malty flavored root) and used buckwheat flour for one loaf and shredded coconut for the other. I also used coconut oil for the fat. The batters were rich looking, like cake batter. The aroma in the kitchen was heavenly and the resulting breads were fabulous. Sweet without any added sugars, no blood sugar spikes and no yeasty itching.


My daughter, who named Sourdough Bread #1 “Mommybread” said this Teff Carob bread was the best ever and I should make it exclusively. Forever.





bnom's picture

Not surprised that you say that.  I rather blithely thought I could substitute rye/wheat for teff in my usual sourdough mix and it got very soupy.  Apparently teff has a habit of sucking up flour and then releasing moisture.  I had a sodden couche and had to basically pour the dough into a dutch oven to bake. But it's excellent bread.  I made it 5 days ago and am still enjoying it, toasted or untoasted.

So enjoy that 25lb sack...and be prepared for very wet doughs.

sharonk's picture

yes, I was very surprised it was soupy and that's why I fed it 1 part flour to 1 part water. I thought it would act like buckwheat, completely sponging up. The finished bread has lovely texture!

I looked at my 25 lb sack and it's ever so much less!

Urchina's picture

I've only used teff flour to make Injera, an Ethiopian flatbread, that's traditionally made with sourdough starter. The way I make it is: 


1/2 cup starter (my starter is a very hydrated one, at 1 cup flour to 1 cup water; but I don't feel that matching this hydration is really critical for this recipe. 

 2 cups water

2 cups teff flour


Mix and let ferment at room temperature 12-18 hours at least. It can go up to 3 days and gets progressively more sour. 


Stir; it'll be very thin, like crepe batter. Add salt to taste; I find about 1/4 to 1/2 a tsp works well. 


Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium heat (just as you would for pancakes). I use a 10" cast iron skillet that's very well-seasoned. 


Pour in batter in a spiral to make a 1/4" deep crepe 8" inches or so across; tilt and swirl the pan to evenly distribute the batter. Cook until you see bubbles rise to the surface, as for pancakes, but do NOT flip. Instead, cover the skillet with a lid and continue to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until the top is set and firm. Remove the injera and place it in a clean tea towel. 


Make the rest of the injera, stacking as you go. This recipe makes between 8 and 10. 


In Ethiopia, Injera is spread on a table and thick stews are piled on top. To eat, you tear off a piece of the bread and scoop some stew up with it. We've had it with thick and spicy chicken stews, lentil dishes, and curries. My kids love it, it's flexible and tasty, and can sub for tortillas and wraps. Plus, it's very easy and doesn't require firing up the oven, something I really appreciate in the summer! 


Good luck with your 25 lbs!



sharonk's picture

Thanks for your beautiful injera recipe. I've only tried thick pancakes not those crepe-like injera. I love the idea of swirling it on the pan.

I'll get to it sometime, I'm sure.

ananda's picture

Hi Sharon

What is Chia Gel please?   How does it work in the foods you make and prepare?



sharonk's picture

HI Andy,

Chia seed is a native American seed from a variety of salvia. It is also know as Salba. It is a high protein seed that absorbs many times its weight in water making it good for stabilizing blood sugar and allegedly, weight loss because it digests slowly thus reducing hunger. I started using it in breads to help fluff it up and bind it but was pleasantly surprised when I found my breads having an extraordinarily long shelf life!

7-10 days! for gluten free bread!

To make chia gel:

Simply put 2 tablespoons of the whole seed and mix it into 1 cup, 8 ounces, of water. Mix with a whisk. It will slowly absorb the water so you must stir it for a few seconds  every 5 minutes or so over a period of 30 minutes to avoid clumping. It is ready for use or you can let it ferment, covered on the counter for 12 hours before using. This makes about 10-12 ounces.

It lasts about 2 weeks and can be added to yogurt, hot cereal, smoothies and bread.

I'll add 2 tablespoons of the gel to any bread dough to help preserve it. I have a whole section in my book about chia based breads where I use 1/2 cup per batch.

I would not use it in pancakes because it makes the batter too wet to cook through.

It's a bit pricey but it lasts a long time since you use so little for each batch.

Read my blog post on the fresh loaf about chia seed: