After phasing gluten out of my diet years ago, I started to try out all sorts of different GF grains. Teff turned out to be one of my favorites. It derives from North Africa, and has been a staple of the Ethiopian diet for centuries. The word teff means “lost,” and this refers to the fact that teff is the tiniest of all grains, and thus almost impossible to find if dropped or scattered. Teff’s nutritional profile is strong: high in protein, amino acids, calcium, and iron. I primarily cook it as breakfast porridge, and my family loves it. I use Bob’s Red Mill Teff–but if making porridge, make sure you buy the Teff and not the teff flour (which is good to blend into GF baking mixes). Teff porridge takes a good 20+ minutes to soften and thicken, and the ratio of teff to water is at least 1:4. I often find myself adding even more water as I go; it’s weird how these tiny grains suck up the water. It needs salt, and a dab of butter really enriches the nutty flavor. My kids like to drizzle a little honey or maple syrup on top as well.
Here is a simple recipe for GF biscotti (or “mandel bread,” as my Yiddish grandma called it), that’s easy and freezes really well. A note on gluten free flour. As discussed in “Gluten and you,” many of the commercial GF products are refined, low-fiber, high-sugar and not particularly good for you. Such is the case with several of the GF baking and pancake/waffle blends on the market, so check labels.
What I do is buy higher-fiber GF flours (either in bulk or by Bob’s Red Mill) and then blend them however I like. Flours you should consider include: brown rice, sorghum, teff, quinoa, amaranth, oat, corn, bean. They all have different properties and flavors, and you will need to play around to see what you like. If you’re a serious baker, each flour will have its own special baking properties, and you’ll need to do some googling on which ones work best in which kind of baked goods. That said, for simple baked goods like biscotti, I find it makes little difference, and I use what’s on hand. Last batch, I used a blend of brown rice and amaranth flour, and they were delicious. [Read more…]