The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Injera... anyone making it successfully and consistently?

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

Injera... anyone making it successfully and consistently?

I have become obsessed with making the injera I used to enjoy with every Ethiopian meal in San Francisco, and which is impossible to find where I live now in upstate New York. The bread I am talking about is light in color, though not so light as something made with white flour. Its surface is like coral, beyond spongy, with many crevices to soak up sauce. Yet it's sturdy so several courses can be dolloped across it and you can tear a piece off and grab a bite of the stew or veggie or salad while the injera maintains its structural integrity. Eventually all the non-sauced injera is gone and you resort to extra injeras that are brought on the side. Sound familiar?

I started my explorations by getting some teff flour and mixing it with water and letting it ferment. The stuff is full of wild yeast and consistently forms a sponge when left at room temperature 24 hours. I add some more water so it's at the consistency of crepe batter, add a bit of salt, and cook, covered in a non-stick skillet on medium heat until the surface is no longer shiny. I then flip this out onto a paper towel and repeat.

Some problems with this process:

* The teff (I've used both dark and ivory varieties) is far darker than the restaurant service, making me think the latter is made with wheat flour entirely or mostly (a problem for people who order injera because they think it's gluten free).

* The breads are too delicate. They break apart too easily.

* There are not enough holes/coral-like surface.

I've read a lot of online recipes from members of the Ethiopian diaspora and there is no common solution. Baking powder, yeast, baking soda, soda water, large amounts of sourdough starter (Sandor Katz) are all recommended as leavening agents. I've tried a few of these without scoring the breakthrough I am looking for.

Can you help?

lepainSamidien's picture
lepainSamidien

Glad to hear another Fresh-Loafer is on the quest for a good injera ! I got bit by the injera-bug (a wildly efficacious transmission vector) after discovering Ethiopian food a few years ago. There is nothing quite like the sour punch of a well-made injera . . . and even better when you get to the end of the courses and are left with a spicy, sauce-soaked cumulo-nimbus of joy. But I digress.

After several epic failures, I happened upon this blog (whose link I hope I can post without the internet police giving me the third-degree) : http://burakaeyae.blogspot.fr/2007/02/step-by-step-injera-instructions-real.html. After a couple of practice runs, I starting making very delicious and fluffy injera. Just like at the restaurants.

A couple of pointers to help you along in the process :

1. Invest in a good cooking surface. I tried injera in a few different pans before borrowing a Lefse grill from a friend of my parents (they live in Minnesota). That antique served me well for a little while, and then I invested in a more modern version of the same device : a Bethany Heritage Lefse Grill (WITH COVER !). That thing will make a might good injera, no stick, no problem.

2. TAKE YOUR TIME ! If I wanted I batch of injera, I would start a couple days in advance. Usually, I would break it down into 12-hour intervals.

STEP 1 : make a 100% teff starter (100% not indicating hydration, but rather 100% teff flour). A little bit of normal sourdough starter, a good amount of water and enough teff flour to get a slightly liquidy starter. I never measured, but I would usually aim to fill up a 32 oz yogurt container halfway (before fermentation). Wait 12 hours.

STEP 2 : Make a bigger 100% teff dough. Take the starter you made 12 hours prior and dump it into a big ol' mixing bowl. Add 2-3 cups of teff flour, get it mixed into a stiff-ish ball, and knead for 4-6 minutes. After it's well kneaded, add about 2 cups of water, little by little, until that stiff ball of dough becomes again a pancake-like batter (maybe a little thinner). Cover it up and let it sit for 12 hours.

STEP 3 : Time to make the wheat component of the dough. Mix together about equal quantities of wheat flour (white flour will gift you a fluffier texture) and water (about 2 cups apiece, say), with a little bit of salt and a little bit of baking powder (yes, we're cheating a little, but I won't rat you out to the authenticity police if you do the same for me). When I say "Mix together," I really should say "Blitz the hell out of." It is imperative that this part of the dough be very very well mixed ; I used an electric hand mixer to effectuate this, but you can use a blender if that's what you got.  (NOTE: at this step in the process, I would often use accumulated sourdough starter that I had left over from discards in between bakes. I would approximate how much flour that was bringing to the party and then subtract it from the 2 cups of wheat flour called for and adjust the hydration accordingly) The consistency should be about the same as the teff batter you made 12 hours before. Speaking of which, give that batter a good blitz with the hand mixer before proceeding to the next step.

STEP 4 : Add the wheat batter to the teff batter and give them a good blitzing with the hand mixer until it become a nice homogenous mixture. At this point, you can proceed to heating up your cooking surface and make your injera right away, but I would usually let this mixture rest for another 8 - 12 hours before cooking.

STEP 5 : After 8 - 12 hours, there may accumulate on the top of the batter a darkish liquid, which you should pour off to the best of your ability. If this is the case, add a little more water in order to get the right consistency. Then, you have nothing but to cook up your injera on your Lefse grill. For the Bethany Heritage Lefse Grill, I would usually use about 300 mL of batter per injera. But you can make them as thick or as thin as your heart desires.

You will end up with a pretty good amount of injera batter, and if you can't use it all in one go, you can refrigerate the batter and it will usually stay good for a week or so. It will become even more sour as it hangs out in the fridge, but I usually saw that as a benefit.

Finding the right consistency is probably the most difficult thing to get, as it is something you can only understand after practicing and screwing up a couple of times.

Best of luck to you and don't hesitate to ask more questions !

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

This is great! Much appreciate the detail. I saved some teff starter so hopefully am ahead of the game (though it is all-teff, fermented with its own wild yeast, no sourdough starter). Will experiment and report back!

Windischgirl's picture
Windischgirl

thanks for posting this recipe, LPS!  I had my first taste of Injera a couple months ago in Boston...drove straight home and cooked up a batch for my family the following weekend. I followed a recipe on Food52, and with the help of my sourdough starter, was very happy with the results fresh out of the pan.  However, like for Burnt, the injera turned all crumbly the next day.   (Still delicious as leftovers for my NotSadDeskLunch).

The restaurant in Boston served both brown and white Injera, so I'm wondering if they did as you suggested--100% wheat flour for the white ones, and a blend for the brown.

I'll bookmark your recipe to try when the weather cools.  Right now we're doing grilling and ciabatta !

Lulucooks13's picture
Lulucooks13

This is my first post to this forum after years of benefiting from the wisdom of others. I have been experimenting with injera and created a recipe loosely based on Chad Dykstra's great YouTube tutorial and advice from an Ethiopian chef. I had a lot of success by converting my sourdough starter to the ersho (injera starter) and seeking a final batter consistency similar to paint, crepe batter, or a light custard (If that helps!) I also found that cooking it on high is important because the sponge does not form otherwise. You end up with larger bubbles and a more brittle crepe. Also be very careful to avoid condensation from the lid when cooking. I keep a tea towel at hand to collect drips. 

Lulucooks13's picture
Lulucooks13

 

Sorry, I also use barley flour and teff, rather than AP flour. I noticed that some folks cook a portion of batter while others use a bit of soda water or leavening. I don't understand the purpose of these activities, but opted to use a small amount of self-rising flour in the final mix as per Chad Dykstra https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXEa7yfeyDQ and my family agreed that our homemade injera were superior in flavour and texture to store bought.

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

Thanks Lulucooks13 and kudos for a great first post! I watched the Chad Dykstra tutorial and there is lots of good stuff in there, such as how to get consistent "eyes" across the injera. We are baking here as humans in upstate NY so am not going back in the kitchen till it cools down a bit, but making notes for my next attempt at injera.

I talked extensively with the chef at Tadu, a great Ethiopian restaurant in San Francisco, about her injera method. She prepares it over five days and uses yeast. Dykstra uses self-rising flour and, as you mention, some use soda water. I hoped to get enough rise with the only the native yeast in my ersho but have not yet been successful; still, that seems to be a worthy goal. 

Also, Dykstra says the Bethany griddle is essential but it's $130 at Target for a pretty big piece of equipment. I'm reluctant to commit that much money and space for a single-use item (though of course one can use it to make crepes).

P.S. To Windischgirl about the white vs brown injera, at Tadu the white is a teff/AFP blend and the brown is 100% teff. The latter is imported in its finished form from Ethiopia and offered as a gluten-free option at extra cost. I tried them both and preferred the taste of the house-made white.

purpledread's picture
purpledread

Short answer- yes, I am. 

1) A few things- injera was originally made with teff only. This means that there is a way to make it without the gluten of wheat flour. 

2) Injera is not a crepe. It is not a pancake. It is a steamed flatbread. If you look at it this way, your baking process will become easier. 

3) Teff is a starch. The binding agent is starch, not gluten. If you've ever baked with cornstarch or tapioca, you can start to think about the differences. 

4) Injera is temperamental not because of the ferment but because you're working with a starch. 

5) It's basically a reverse sourdough bread. You start thick and thin it out. 

6) You develop the starches and also increase moisture content by cooking a small portion of teff flour in twice the amount of water until it is a porridge, then  you allow that to cool and add it to your batter to ferment. 

7) (I saw this on a few other posts)- your pan should be hot or your bubbles will be too big. If it's too hot, you'll burn it. This just takes some practice. 

8) When you pour your batter, work from the outside and move slowly inward in a spiral. Wait until all of the bubbles have turned dark before covering it to steam. Steam only for a few minutes. 

Don't be afraid to add water to your batter, 1/8 cup at a time. Your injera should be thin, not thick. My rough recipe follows:

Step 1

1 cup teff flour

2 cup water

1/2 cup teff starter (hydration level is not super important, I usually just save a scoop or two of my last batch)

Mix the above ingredients together and allow to ferment until the batter has risen (timing depends on temp)

Step 2

1 cup teff flour

Mix 1 cup of teff flour into batter and work with your hands or a spatula until it starts to smooth. Cover, and allow to rise for 6-12 hours. 

Step 3

1/2 cup teff flour

1 cup of water

Using a whisk in a small saucepan over the stove, slowly cook flour and water together until mixture becomes thick. Be sure to whisk constantly to avoid lumps. Once it has thickened, remove from stove and allow to cool, whisking occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. Once the mixture has cooled, add to your fermented dough. 

Step 4

approximately 2 cups of water (or more)

Slowly add water to dough, one cup at a time, until the resulting batter is slightly thinner than crepe batter. No need to thin it too much at this point as you will be able to add water later if needed. Allow batter to ferment until small bubbles form. Taste sourness and allow to ferment longer if a more sour injera is desired. 

Step 5 

Cooking- Unfortunately, I don't have time to get in to this today, but it's not too difficult. It mostly requires a large flat skillet, a lid, salt, and patience. 

purpledread's picture
purpledread

Step 1- one cup of flour and one cup of water. 

ezm's picture
ezm

This post is in response to purpledread's comment above. I was very interested in the observations you made in the post above, before you got into your recipe.

I have long baked sourdough breads and while I'm by no means a master, I can get a reasonable result pretty consistently. Partly that's due to the fact that I've been able to understand the key processes going on in the dough: fermentation, the development of gluten and complex sugars, etc...

A similar understanding has been pretty elusive for me when it comes to Injera, and indeed I've been unable to produce a consistent result. Several of the steps that I've come across in various recipes, I don't really understand. For example, why is there a step of adding boiling water towards the end of the process, or as you described, cooking teff and then adding the cooked mixture toward the end of the process, just before cooking.

What you said about starch being the key to the process seemed like an interesting tip, but I wonder could you explain what you mean when you say we "develop" the starches? With gluten that word would mean to me that we encourage he development of gluten protein strings, but with starches I don't know what it means. From other bread baking, my understanding is that what we want is for the starches to break down into more complex sugars. Is that the same here? Is the development of starch related to success or failure in the resulting texture and the formation of the "eyes"?

Another thing that I don't understand, though I don't think you mentioned it, is the idea of kneading the Teff before making it into a batter. My understanding is that kneading is important in leavened bread because it helps the formation of gluten proteins, which give the bread structure and ensure it rises. But Teff is low in gluten and we don't want it to rise, so what does kneading accomplish?

purpledread's picture
purpledread

ezm- Since I posted that comment, I have revised and perfected my injera recipe. I can now produce injera consistently with the right texture and flavor, and the recipe can be replicated by others with similar results. I have actually typed up the recipe with detailed instructions and am working on making a youtube video detailing the process. 

Some of my answers may contradict my earlier post. I was still figuring out how it worked at the time, so I wasn't sure which steps could be omitted or altered without impacting the final product. 

Let's see if I can answer your questions. 

Q) Why add cooked teff or boiling water?

A) There are several reasons for doing this. The first, and probably most important, is that it brings your "dough" to the proper hydration. Teff flour doesn't really do much in water. It remains suspended, which you can see when you let your dough proof while submerged in water. The particles all settle to the bottom. Adding heat changes the chemical composition of the starch in the flour, and I believe it binds to the water molecules in some way. This is what I mean by "developing the starch". When you develop gluten, the gluten undergoes a chemical change that allows it to become a binding agent. In order to bind your injera together, you must create a chemical reaction that allows the starch to bind. The only way to do this is with heat and liquid. With gluten, liquid, proofing time, and kneading are all that are required. Although injera is steamed, the cooking process for the bread itself is not quite enough to bind all of the water to all of the suspended teff particles. If you omit the cooked teff or hot water step, you risk having a final product that is crumbly or grainy. There just isn't a high enough liquid to teff ratio in plain dough with the proper amounts of each added to produce a nice soft, chewy injera. You can hydrate your dough while still maintaining the proper consistency by binding some of the water to the starch in advance. I personally prefer to add a specific amount of teff flour to a specific amount of water to control the process, although adding hot water to your batter can work. You risk killing the yeast that way though. 

Combining teff flour to water and cooking and then adding to your dough also serves another purpose. After your dough has proofed, the yeast won't be very active. The yeast will have eaten most of the available food, and you may not get enough rise when you cook it. Adding a small amount of fresh teff flour reactivates the yeast and ensures good rise (or "ain" development- the little eyes on top of the bread)

 

Q) What about kneading the dough

A) I'll admit, I'm a little stumped by this one, but I do know that you don't have to knead the dough nearly as much as most videos and recipes say. Mixing your sponge and teff flour together for the first rising with a rubber spatula until it forms a relatively smooth ball (2-3 min) seems to be sufficient. I think the kneading process helps spread the yeast throughout the mixture more than anything. It also ensures that all of the teff particles become saturated. 

 

Hopefully these answers are helpful. It's definitely an ongoing journey. :)

I'm no chemist or food scientist, but I'd be happy to share my current recipe with you, if you'd like. It's kind of lengthy, but, as I said, seems to get consistent results. 

I've attached a few pictures from different batches.

 

injera 1injera 2

ezm's picture
ezm

@purpledread - it would be wonderful if you shared your current recipe. And thank you for your thoughts. I also asked a similar question to what I asked you on this QA site: https://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/90305/why-do-injera-recipes-call-for-adding-boiling-water-or-cooking-down-tef-with-som

Jenni Marsh's picture
Jenni Marsh

Hi there - I recently made some injera from quite a simple recipe on YouTube. 

Day 1: Mix yeast, water and 1 cup of teff

Day 2: Add three cups of teff, water and mix well.

Day 3: It had fermented, with water on top and bubbles rising from the bottom. (I live in a hot humid country, so it fermented quickly.)

I cooked on a mitad and the taste, appearance and texture were good. It tasted nice and rolled well. However, it was a bit too thick. Probably double the thickness it should be.

How can I get it thinner? Will adding more water do the job or will that change the overall composition? Also, to preserve precious teff, can I substitute some of that teff in the second step for all purpose flour without changing things too much?

Best wishes,

Jenni

ezm's picture
ezm

Jenni, take whatever I say with a grain of salt because I can't say that I've been able to get a consistent result in making Injera, though I do get an edible result. I think, however, that adding some water toward the end of the process is a common practice. I would say you don't want to add a ton of water, but adding some to think the batter to the right consistency, I think is okay. I'd certainly be curious what other thinks.

Also, I don't know that we have here yet a good full recipe. If you've had success, maybe share your method in full? I'd be happy to hear your method and the result.

purpledread's picture
purpledread

I just realized that I forgot to post my full recipe on this site. Sorry this is a bit long folks, but it should work well for you. The most important thing to remember is that you can add some of your reserved liquid if your batter is a little too thick, but if it is too thin, your injera will be a sticky, hot, burned mess on your grill, no matter what you do. Thick injera is better than no injera. 

 

Teff Injera- Becca’s home method for small batches

 

Yield: 2 ½ to 3 large (16”) pieces of injera

 

Active time: 1 hour

 

Fermentation time: 2-3 days

 

Note: Allow at least 24 hours total for proper fermentation. A ferment time of 2-3 days is better.

 

Tools:

Large ceramic or glass bowl

Rubber or silicone spatula

Whisk

Saucepan

Strainer

3-4 cup measuring container with a pour spout

Ladle

Lefse griddle with lid (preferred) or flat pan and a lid that is slightly smaller than the edges of the pan

Clean dishtowels

16” pizza pan (or smaller if you’re not using a lefse griddle)

 

 

Ingredients:

Step 1 (day 1):

½ cup injera starter (can use sourdough starter at first)

1 cup water (use bottled or filtered water, or tap water without chlorine)

1 cup teff flour

 

Step 2 (day 1):

1 cup teff flour

 

Step 3 (day 1):

2-3 cups of water (use bottled or filtered water, or tap water without chlorine)

 

Step 4 (day 2-3):

2 cups of water, divided (use bottled or filtered water, or tap water without chlorine)

1/8 cup of teff flour

salt to taste (optional, not recommended)

 

Step 1 (making the sponge):

In a large ceramic or glass bowl, mix ½ cup of injera or sourdough starter with 1 cup of water and one cup of teff flour. If you are picky about your sourdough hydration level, keep in mind that your hydration level of your dough does not matter at this point. 

Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warm place (70-90°F is ideal) for 1-2 hours, or until mixture has doubled in size and is actively fermenting. It is important to wait until your sponge is light and fluffy with new air bubbles from the yeast before moving on to the next step. If you are using sourdough starter, your initial ferment time may be longer because the yeast will have to adjust to the teff flour. 

 

Step 2 (making the dough):

Once your sponge is ready, add 1 cup of teff flour, using a soft spatula to fold the dough over itself until it is no longer crumbly and holds its shape. You may need to add a little more teff or water at this point to get the right consistency. This mixing step is traditionally done with the hands, but a spatula works quite well and is less messy.  

Cover the bowl again and allow the dough to rise until it approximately doubles in bulk. Since the dough contains no gluten, it will split open as it doubles rather than rising in a smooth ball. If it does not appear to have doubled, but it has been sitting for 3 or more hours and your sponge was actively fermenting, you can proceed to step 3. 

 

Step 3 (soaking the dough):

After the dough has doubled in size, it needs to be soaked to achieve the proper hydration and flavor. This step also makes the finished product easier to digest. Pour enough water over the dough so that it covers it several inches. Use a spoon or a whisk to mix the dough thoroughly into the water. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, but preferably 24-48 hours. 

 

Step 4 (preparing the dough for cooking):

After the dough has soaked, the flour will settle to the bottom and a blackish liquid will sit on top. Remove the bowl carefully from the fridge. Pour as much of the dark liquid (“hooch” in sourdough lingo) from the top as you can into a separate container and reserve. You may need some of this reserved liquid later.

THIS NEXT STEP IS IMPORTANT. DO NOT SKIP IT.

Before cooking the dough, you must increase the hydration level by cooking a small portion of teff flour in water until it thickens. The starches bind with the water and allow you to create a moist and perfect piece of injera. Traditionally, a small portion of the hydrated dough is cooked in water, but I found that using a small amount of teff flour is easier and more accurate.

In a saucepan, mix 1/8 cup teff flour with one cup of water and heat slowly over the stove, stirring often with a whisk until the mixture thickens. Allow thickened mixture to cool. Once it is at room temperature (or slightly warmer), mix it into the soaked dough. If the thickened mixture has lumps, use a strainer to remove the lumps before mixing it with the dough. 

Once you have mixed the cooked teff with the dough, add the remaining cup of water and stir. It is best to err on the side of using too little water. You can always add some of the reserved liquid from your earlier ferment if you need to thin the dough later. 

Cover the bowl and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least an hour (it usually takes 2-3 hours, and up to 5, depending on the room temp), until bubbles form and the dough is actively fermenting again. You can leave your reserved liquid (“hooch”) on the counter next to the bowl of dough. This allows the yeasts in the liquid to continue producing carbon dioxide bubbles so that you can thin your dough at the last minute if necessary without losing the leavening power of the yeast.

 

Step 5 (baking the injera):

After several hours, your dough should be bubbly and smell a little like bread dough. It will be thinner than pancake batter. I usually describe it as slightly thinner than crepe batter, but I use pretty thick crepe batter. It should be soupy but not quite watery. 

Preheat your pan or lefse griddle over medium heat. A pan on the stove usually works best at the 4 or 5 setting. If using a lefse griddle, heat it to ~250°F. If the pan is too hot, you will burn the bottom of your injera without properly cooking the top and you will end up with a sticky mess. 

At this point, you will want to reserve ½ cup of the dough for future batches. Keep it stored in an airtight container in the fridge. I use an old yogurt container. 

You can also add salt to taste at this point (after removing some dough for your next batch). I have found that with good teff flour, adding salt is not necessary. 

 

Once your griddle is preheated, gently stir the dough and use a ladle to scoop some dough into your 3-4 cup pouring cup. You will use around 2-3 cups for a 16” piece, and it’s always good to have a little extra in your pouring cup. 

Starting at the outside edge of your lefse griddle (or just inside the edge of your flat plan, pour a thin and steady stream of dough onto the hot surface. Working in a circular spiral motion, pour the dough to cover the surface from the outside inward. Finish at the center. This is important, because otherwise you won’t be able to grab the cooked edges to remove the injera from the pan. (Note: if you are using a flat pan with edges, be sure to leave enough room for the edges of your lid between the injera and the edge of the pan)

 

Once you have finished pouring, you will see the eyes (bubbles) begin to form on the surface. Wait until bubbles have formed on all parts of the injera before covering. Do not wait too long, or the outside edges will begin to crack. Do not cover too soon, or the finished injera will lose its structure. 

 

Cover, and cook for 5-10 min (depending on the size of the piece, the temperature of the room, and the relative humidity). You can check on your injera after 1-2 min to make sure it is cooking properly, but do not check too often, or it will dry out. If using a lefse griddle, you can spin the lid around several times while the injera is cooking to encourage the condensation to move down the lid to the outside of the pan. 

 

The injera is ready when the edges begin to lift off the pan slightly. At this point, if you are using a lefse griddle, you can use the 16” pizza pan covered with a dishtowel to help lift the injera and slide it on to a waiting dishtowel on the side of the pan. The top will be sticky until it cools, so be sure not to let the injera flip onto itself. If you are using a pan on the stove, you can use a spatula to help lift the injera onto a waiting towel. 

 

Now that you have a finished piece, you can assess whether it is the desired thickness. If it is too thick, add a small amount of reserved hooch to the remaining dough and stir. 

 

Continue this process until you have used all of your dough. If you are using a lefse griddle, do not start at the exact edge of the pan for the last piece, because you won’t have quite enough dough to finish a full piece. I usually leave 1-2 inches free on the edge for the last piece. 

 

Your injera may seem like a sticky disaster waiting to happen when it comes off the grill, but be patient! Once your injera cools, the top will firm up and the bottom will become softer. You can stack the pieces of injera while you are cooking, but you will need to separate them for storage.

 

Properly cooked injera will have small bubbles and NO BROWN on the bottom. Remember, this is not a pancake, it is steamed flatbread. 

 

Storage Notes-

If you are serving the injera the same day, it is best to store it at room temperature. Stack the pieces on several criss-crossed pieces of plastic wrap. Bring the edges of the plastic wrap up over the edges of the injera. Cover the top with more plastic wrap and tuck it under the injera pieces. Punch several 1” air holes close to the center of the wrapping. This keeps the moisture from ruining your injera but also helps to keep it from drying out. 

 

If you are saving your injera, it is best to store it in the freezer. Cold temperatures cause injera to crumble, but freezing is not a problem. Fold your injera piece into quarters and place in a 1-gallon freezer storage bag. You can put two pieces in one bag, but make sure to fold them separately. Reheat in the microwave 1 minute at a time until warm (NOT hot). The heat will soften the injera and make it taste fresh. 

 

Teff Flour Notes- 

There are several brands of teff flour. I use Maskal ivory teff because it is grown sustainably in the United States and has a good flavor. For learning, I would suggest buying a bulk batch from The Teff Company (producers of Maskal flour) because it is the least expensive option. You can get 25 lbs for $65. 

cmurphy's picture
cmurphy

I don't have much baking experience and I have miserably failed with Injera in the past...however, with using PurpleDread's process outlined above, I had great success making nutty, spongey injera with great structure. Cooking a portion of the dough "roux" was the key! (I think).

I had 100% teff on hand, and Fleishmann's active dry yeast, but no access to a starter :( Here's what I did:

I mixed 3 cups water to 2 cups teff and allowed to sit for about 48 hours. It wasn't really enough time to allow any wild yeast fermentation to occur...(In this experiment, I also tried "inoculating" the teff with a piece of banana that had been laying on the counter...but not sure if it had any effect.)

On the day of preparation, I added a packet of activated yeast and mixed it into the watery dough and waited about 6 hours..Following Purpledread's instructions to mix a 1/4 cup of teff flour with 1 cup of water, whisking over the stove, it quickly created a roux-like substance, which I cooked for about 4 minutes over low heat, stirring constantly. After allowing it to cool for about 20 min, I added the "roux" to the dough and mixed well. I let it sit another hour as the dough started to ferment again. 

For cooking, I used a calphalon 8" nonstick skillet, into which I spooned about 1/2 cup of dough for each smallish sized injera. I immediately placed a lid over the pan, and cooked over gas stove for about 5 minutes...It could have cooked longer but I was afraid of burning my limited supply of dough...

When I sampled the injera, it looked good, but was a little undercooked, so I tossed it back into the pan for another min and half (flipping onto the uncooked side - sacrilege - I know!) to ensure even cooking throughout.

Afterwards, I had great dough to accompany my Ethiopian feast, with enough structure to hold a fingerful of food. 

Now, I'll let my dough sit around for another week or so, and hopefully it will acquire some of that sourdough taste...we'll see..

this site has been a real help - my gf can't eat gluten, and the Ethiopian restaurants here use barley in their "gluten-free" injera.

trailgal's picture
trailgal

I finally bought "ivory" teff and even added white flour. I am getting the bubbles, and some sponginess but the bottom gets cracker-like and I'm not getting the same color or tang the bread in restaurants. 

Any further suggestions. I am also wondering if Ethiopian restaurants here on the East Coast are making an American version with barely any teff...

Thanks in advance!

purpledread's picture
purpledread

Trailgal- You'll get this! It sounds like you're almost there. I've got a few suggestions.

Flour type- you can make good injera with almost any type of flour, but the process changes slightly depending on the binding substance. Gluten works differently from starch. The recipe I posted is for 100% teff flour. Anything with wheat flour will require modifications. 

Flavor- the tangy flavor comes from the symbiotic relationship between wild yeasts and bacteria. If you are using store-bought yeast, your injera will not be as tangy. My suggestion is to practice culturing a wild sourdough starter and feed it with the flour you'd like to use for your injera. You can use a 1:1 ratio of flour to filtered water, and kick-start it with a bit of yeast if you like. Just let it sit for 3-7 days, until bubbly, then feed twice more. Each time, the microbial count will increase and you will develop your own sour flavor unique to your kitchen. I personally had a lot more success with flavor once I started using probiotic cleaners in my kitchen, but that is not necessary. To get the best tangy injera, feed the yeasts up front with the bulk of the flour for your recipe and then cover with water and let sit in a cool place for a couple of days. I toss mine in the fridge since I live in a very hot climate. 

Crispyness- this could be from a few things. The temperature on your grill could be too high. Injera likes to cook at medium to medium-low temps. Also, be sure to cover it as soon as all the bubbles have formed but before the top starts to dry out. Your hydration level could also be off, so you could try playing around with that. Finally, teff injera will become consistently soft once it cools, so wait until then before serving. The top will be sticky and the bottom slightly stiff when you first pull it off the grill. 

One final thing to remember- teff injera has larger bubbles than wheat injera. This is normal, and the more you practice, the more you'll get a sense for what is right for each type of flour. 

Hope this helps!

 

trailgal's picture
trailgal

Purpledread-It does help, thank you. I was probably a little impatient; I was using another injera recipe that only called for a 24-hour fermentation using store bought yeast. 

So now I am on the second day of that, plus now capturing wild flour-borne yeast. Would adding a tablespoon of rye flour help, the same way rye seems to give my French bread a quicker sour taste than regular white w/barley bread flour?

purpledread's picture
purpledread

trailgal- Cultures are finicky that way. I always try to save at least one piece of injera in the freezer each time I make it so that I can recover from the inevitable disaster of trying to make injera when friends or family come over for dinner. Something invariably goes wrong when I've planned your dinner around a fermented product. My most perfect injera happens on days when I'm just messing around in the kitchen and there's no one to impress. 

That said, under the right temperature and humidity conditions, a strong starter can ferment properly within 24 hours. I usually plan on at least several days though. Non-sour injera is considered an inferior product by many, so the wait is usually worth it. 

If you are going for teff injera, I would advise against adding anything to mess with the cultures, at least at first. Remember, teff is a whole grain and contains all of the food that the yeasts and bacteria need. Rye adds sour to bread because it provides nutrients for the bacteria. Teff is full of those nutrients already. Also, I would strongly advise discarding your soaking water prior to cooking (per my recipe above) because the flavor of the finished product will be better. Soaking and discarding does remove some of the nutrients, but it also makes a cleaner tasting injera and helps prevent gas/stomach discomfort by removing the indigestible components. 

trailgal's picture
trailgal

 

Success! The missing ingredient was time. It was worth the extra two-day wait. My injera has the proper tang. Thanks again.

Watsonjl28's picture
Watsonjl28

I've got a party coming up on Thursday - its Monday morning now.  Last Tuesday I followed (another sites) instruction for making the Injeera batter.  I mixed 1 cup Dark Teff flour with 3 cups of water and set aside for 3 days.  It was pungent and frothy on the top.  I poured off the froth and water, and followed additional instructions to add 1/2 cup of this to 1 cup boiling water, then add the thick paste into the original starter and add more water.  Then cook.  My results are a disaster, gummy, wet, no lovely holes.

 

My question - ive got a lot of this batter left.  Ive got nice sour dough starter, just refreshed on Saturday.  Any suggestions for salvaging this or do I need to start over?  Thanks so much!

Watsonjl28's picture
Watsonjl28

 so, ive read back thru a number of comments here, and decided to go ahead and add some of my SD starter to the Teff batter, I added some water and AP flour, and whisked it all together until frothy.  Will watch and see what happens.

Reading your full recipe, I didn't see any reference to adding enough Jeff or other flour to get it thick enough to knead.  Im a bit confused from the original post to the full recipe.  

 

Next steps suggestions would be hopeful in my process.

purpledread's picture
purpledread

The numbers below do not match my recipe, but just gives you a reference for the order in which to do them.

1) create the "sponge". (1 ferment)

2) add enough flour to thicken to knead. (2nd ferment)

3) add water to thick dough and stick in fridge. ("proofing")

4) drain water/"hooch" (save if needed for thinning)

5) cook a small portion in water and add to dough (activating starches/hydrating dough)

6) add water and ferment one final time at room temp to ensure proper bubble formation- after fermenting, if it is still too thick, you add some of the saved liquid (hooch) because it has more CO2 and flavor

7) cook

purpledread's picture
purpledread

Would a video be more helpful? I've been planning to make one, but have not yet gotten around to it. 

purpledread's picture
purpledread

Watsonj128- There is still time to make great injera! First, you need to identify what went wrong. 

Sticky injera is the result of several different problems.

1) batter is too thin- this might be part of your problem. Always err on the side of thick. You can add water, but you can't add more teff flour and expect good results. 

2) the grill is too hot- this may seem counterintuitive, but a grill that is too hot results in a sticky mess that burns or overcooks on the bottom. 

3) the batter does not have enough CO2 from yeast/microbe activity- I believe this is your problem, since you said it lacked the characteristic bubbles upon cooking. My guess is that when you added fresh water, you diluted the CO2 (bubbles) from the original ferment to the point where they no longer leavened the injera upon cooking. My recipe above accounts for this by adding a little fresh teff prior to the final ferment period. 

 

So, how to save your party? That's actually pretty straightforward. Add some more teff flour (depending on the size of your batch, anywhere between 1/4 and 1 cup). Store in fridge until the morning before. The morning before your party, drain off the water (save at least 1 cup in case you need to thin your dough), boil a bit more (as you did before), and add enough water to thin (not too thin!!). Let this mixture sit at room temperature for 1-3 hours, or until new bubbles form. Once it is fermenting properly, you can stir and cook (covered) as normal. 

 

Hope this helps!

fortran's picture
fortran

Greetings purpledread and others.

 

I come from Materials Science and Engineering, and hydrometallurgy (doing processing in water near room temperature) and pyrometallurgy (using heat, not always at steel making temperatures) are part of my background.  And, approaching age 50, I've been cooking for 55 years (starting with recipes neither parent could do).  So, I have a little feel for food "as a material".

 

In volunteering with a soccer (football) team, I got interested in digestion and hydration (of the athlete).  Partially hydrolysed starch was something one could find in the baby food aisle at that time; basically it is lightly/carefully baked starch.  Could be any kind of starch.  Doing this, decreases the average molecular weight of the molecules of starch (aka polymer sugar).  At some point, the average molecular weight decreases enough, that to ingest (drink) a starch/water mixture does not require the person to "digest" the starch, it just passes across the GIT (gastro-intestinal tract) membrane into the blood stream.

 

People that make fireworks, like to use "dextran" in their mixtures.  Nominally this is corn starch that is baked, to produce a lower molecular weight polymer dextrose.  Same idea as above, with a different goal.  Dextran is supposed to be useful in coating seeds (to make them bigger, so they can be metered more easily).

 

If you are going to "bake" any finely divided starch in an oven, take care.  Especially gas fired ovens with an open flame.  Finely divided starch is flammable, and potentially explosive (if you bump it and create a cloud of fine starch in air).

 

So, heat and water will do chemistry with starch.  I don't know enough to suggest what is happening in much of this recipe.

 

But, as I write this, I have a small plastic container sitting on top of a computer (with a vertical heat exhaust port) which has about 1 tablespoon of teff flour in it, and enough previously boiled water to cover.  I live where the Alaska Highway begins, and this is winter.  Few places in the house are 70F, almost none are 90F.  Sitting on the top of a PC doing BOINC calculations looking for SETI@Home hits is a more or less constant heat production, and so a more or less constant heat.  So far, no sign that the teff flour is going to bubble over and fill my power supply with starch.  :-)

Learning how to work with non-gluten grains is part of why I am doing this.  I am hoping to take a bunch of small "pizzas" to the food bank of a local church on Tuesday (Christmas Eve).  Some made with a dough derived from chestnut flour, and some from teff flour.  The basic Italian pizza (tomato, mozzarella and basil).  It's green and red, and should go with Christmas.