Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tough Teff

This week has been dominated by our trials with teff. This is a traditional grain used in Ethiopian cooking to make pancakes, called injera, and other breads. It is gluten free and rather sour and spicy in taste. It is also incredibly expensive, a whopping 5.30 a kilo, and so mistakes are costly. I've made a few. Injera are made by mixing the freshly ground teff with water and allowing this mixture to ferment for three days. This results in a separation of the sponge and water, the water is poured off, and some of the sponge is mixed with boiling water, thickened then stirred back into the sponge. More water is added to create a pancake batter, then this mix is allowed to stand for an hour before being finally turned into pancakes. If the teff is not freshly ground then add some yeast at the first stage.

That was long-winded in the writing but twenty-fold so in the making. I failed the first time, no yeast, and succeeded the second. Why the bother? It's our Millennium menu and we had committed to the menu without prior cooking (not so smart - Ed). When we looked at the book, the teff they used was in seed form, and was used to make a porridge. The flour makes an unattractive grey sludge, worthless and expensive. We couldn't get the seed so were stuck with the flour. In order to make the plate as attractive as possible we also made some teff bread. This was met with various degrees of enjoyment from the diners, from disgust all the way to grudging appreciation. It could not be eaten alone, the grain produces a sour, gritty flour, but has to be eaten as part of the wat. It then enhances the whole flavour. By Saturday we had developed a cheats recipe for the injera, using teff, wholemeal bread four, self-raising flour and soda water. It's not authentic but it's much easier.

Here's a recipe from this menu. It's the fig cake and shows how easy vegan cooking can be.

demerara sugar
160g soft brown sugar
200g self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
tsp almond extract
tsp vanilla extract
100 ml veg oil
200 ml soya milk (i'm not  sure about this, could be more or less)

Mix dry (except demerara) and wet ingredients separately, then mix together to form cake batter.
Sprinkle demerara into a 8" springform cake pan lined with baking paper, place halved figs (fresh or dried and re-hydrated) on the sugar and then cover with the batter.

Bake in the oven at 170 Deg C until the cake is set, allow to cool for five minutes then turn out while the caramel is still hot.

Serve with lemon anglaise. I'll give you that recipe again.

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