Teff Flour: What to Know About This Fundamental Gluten Free Baking Flour
When you go gluten free, you get to learn about a whole new world of food. Staples like wheat flour are suddenly off the menu but you come to realize that there are plenty of alternatives out there just waiting for you to discover them. Teff flour is a fundamental gluten free baking flour you should definitely explore, whether you’re gluten free by choice or necessity.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at teff flour to discover where it comes from and what health benefits it provides. We’ll also help you learn how to cook with teff flour and provide you with a couple of delicious recipes to try.
What is Teff?
Teff is a type of ancient grain that comes from a species of lovegrass (Eragrostis tef) or Williams’ lovegrass that is native to the Horn of Africa. It is cultivated largely in Ethiopia and Eritrea for its edible seeds which are roughly the size of poppy seeds and come in a variety of colors ranging from white to red to dark brown. These seeds are typically ground into flour and used to make a variety of baked goods including the traditional bread known as injera, a fermented pancake-like bread.
Though teff is an ancient grain, it has recently increased in popularity among the modern athletic community. It has long been a dietary staple among Ethiopia’s long-distance runners including Olympic gold medalist and world record-holder Haile Gebrselassie. It has also crossed the ocean to gain the attention of a growing number of American athletes due to its high protein and mineral content. It provides a slow-burning source of energy and nutrition for endurance athletes.
Teff was first domesticated in Ethiopia over 3,000 years ago and has become the nation’s most widely planted crop. Over 6.5 million households in Ethiopia grow teff and the grain accounts for nearly 15% of all calories consumed by the country’s residents. Though more than 90% of the world’s teff is grown in Ethiopia, the majority of the teff consumes in North America and Europe is grown in Idaho, Australia, India, and the Netherlands due to a law against exporting teff imposed by the Ethiopian government.
The Health Benefits of Teff Flour
As an ancient grain, teff provides a wide variety of health benefits. Not only is it naturally gluten free and therefore an excellent option for followers of the gluten free diet, but a study of 1,800 celiac sufferers found that those who regularly ate teff experienced a significant reduction in symptoms. Another study conducted by researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University discovered that female runners with low iron saw improvements in their iron levels after consuming bread made from teff for 6 weeks.
In terms of its nutritional value, teff contains about 354 calories per half cup uncooked. A serving this size also contains nearly 13 grams of protein, 70.6 grams of carbohydrates, 7.7 grams of fiber, and only 2.3 grams of fat. Teff is also rich in B vitamins and a variety of minerals including calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, and zinc.
Here are some of the other, lesser known health benefits associated with this ancient grain:
- Teff contains 20% to 40% resistant starches and has a low glycemic index (GI) rating – this makes it a great choice for diabetics to help manage blood sugar.
- The high fiber content of teff is great for regulating digestion, helping relieve issues with diarrhea and constipation.
- One serving of teff provides 10% each of your daily recommended value for vitamin B6 and zinc, nutrients essential for healthy cardiovascular, digestive, muscular, and nervous system function as well as strong immunity.
- Teff is naturally low in sodium, making it a heart-healthy choice for people with high blood pressure or other cardiovascular risk factors.
- A single serving of teff contains 69% of your daily recommended value for magnesium, a mineral essential for healthy function of the muscular, nervous, and cardiovascular systems.
- Teff tops the charts for calcium content among ancient grains, containing 123 mg/1 cup cooked which is five times as much as whole wheat.
- Most grains don’t contain significant amounts of calcium, but teff does – it is very beneficial for the immune system as well as healthy bones and tissues.
The health benefits of teff are undeniable, but at this point you may be wondering how to use it. Like many gluten free flours, teff does not do well as a direct substitute for wheat flour, but with the right recipe you can work wonders.
Keep reading to learn how to cook with teff flour and to see some recipes.
Tips for Cooking with Teff Flour
Teff flour typically has a dark brown color and a mild, earthy flavor. It is somewhat pricey compared to other flours, costing as much as $8 per pound, but its health properties make it well worth the investment. Teff flour is typically used in injera, a traditional Ethiopian flatbread, but can also be used to make quick breads, muffins, pancakes, and cookies. It works particularly well in combination with other gluten free flours like buckwheat flour and almond flour.
You can find both whole teff and teff flour in health food stores and from online retailers. Brands like Bob’s Red Mill and Maskal are some of the top brands of teff flour. You can also find a wide variety of recipes using teff flour online.
When cooking with teff flour, it is best to use a recipe that calls for it. If you’re using teff as a gluten free alternative, you can substitute teff flour for about 25% of the white flour called for in most recipes. It is best to purchase teff flour for baking because the grain is so small that it may be difficult to grind it yourself. Just be sure to purchase teff flour that carries a certified gluten free label to ensure that it is safe from cross contamination.
Try These Teff Flour Recipes
The best way to use teff flour is in baked goods such as quick breads, cookies, and muffins. To give you an idea how best to use this gluten free flour, we’ve compiled three delicious recipes. Check them out!
1. Easy Teff Muffins with Walnuts
- ¾ cup teff flour
- ¾ cup brown rice flour
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup arrowroot starch
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and grease 8 cups of a regular muffin pan.
- Whisk together the teff flour, brown rice flour, brown sugar, arrowroot starch, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, and oil then stir into the dry ingredients.
- Fold in the walnuts then spoon into the greased muffin cups.
- Bake for 22 to 25 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool for 5 minutes in the pan then remove from the pan to cool completely.
2. Chewy Teff Peanut Butter Cookies
Servings: 2 dozen
- 1 ½ cups teff flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup smooth peanut butter (gluten free)
- ½ cup pure maple syrup (gluten free)
- ½ cup canola oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment.
- Whisk together the teff flour and salt in a medium bowl.
- In a food processor, combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, canola oil, and vanilla extract then blend smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients and blend until smooth and well combined.
- Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place them on the cookie sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.
- Flatten the balls slightly with a fork and bake 13 to 15 minutes.
- Cool the cookies for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
3. Teff Banana Raisin Bread
Servings: 10 to 12
- 1 ¾ cups teff flour
- 1 cup seedless raisins
- ½ cup chopped dates
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup mashed banana
- 1 large egg, whisked
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
- Toss the raisins, chopped dates, and walnuts with a few tablespoons of the teff flour then set aside.
- Combine the remaining teff flour with the cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
- In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Blend in the banana, egg, and vanilla extract until well combined.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir well then fold in the dried fruit and nuts.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
When cooking with teff flour you’re not only able to have a delicious gluten free experience, you’re also eating an ancient grain that has a wide variety of health benefits.
Give it a try today!