As you begin to explore all the different ways of cooking gluten free food, it becomes an adventure to discover all the different flours and grains that are available. Teff flour is one of those little-known flours that has great health benefits and is great for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
Teff is a grass grain that is native to the northern highlands of Northeast Africa. The word teff is related to the root tff which means “lost”. It is thought to be named this because of the size of the grain. It takes over 150 grains of teff to be equivalent in size to one grain of wheat – it’s just tiny!
Teff is naturally higher in protein than wheat flour. It’s a good source of calcium and thiamine and it contains a high amount of easily absorbed iron. There are several varieties of teff, white and red being the most common. Teff grain can be used as a substitute for nuts or seeds or can be cooked and made into small cakes. Teff grain can be ground down to make teff flour which works well in a number of recipes. Teff does not contain gluten and because of this should be combined with other flours or ingredients to replace the chewiness and texture of gluten containing grains. Xanthan gum is a common ingredient used for this purpose.
The first step in cooking with teff flour is to find the ingredients! When you begin to look for teff flour gluten free is likely to be mentioned on the package. If it isn’t, don’t worry. Teff flour is naturally gluten free and is rarely manufactured on equipment shared with gluten containing grains. If you’re concerned however, be sure to contact the manufacturer. A few companies are even beginning to offer organic teff flour though it can be harder to find and a little more expensive.
Once you’ve located the teff flour, next stop is the recipes. The internet is a great resource for gluten free recipes that use teff flour. Give several a try and try a variety of different foods made with teff flour to give it a real test. You may find that you enjoy cookies and gluten free cakes made with teff flour but not bread – or vice versa. Try teff flour in your next Gluten Free Bread Machine recipe and see how it turns out.
As you begin baking with teff flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour and other gluten free flours, you may realize what a benefit having such variety is. Each flour has a slightly different taste and texture and they can be combined in almost an endless number of ways. Give teff flour a try in your next batch of cookies, wheat free bread, or muffins. You may be surprised at how much flavor and nutrition this tiny grain can bring to the table.