The Ultimate Guide to Teff Flour

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Teff Flour is a nutrient packed sweet malty gluten-free flour. 

overhead view of teff flour on a wooden board with spoons

What is teff?

Teff is an ancient grain which is inextricably linked to Ethiopia, it is the most important crop grown on native soil and forms the bulk of the country’s diet and nutrition. The teff grain is cooked up into porridge and used in savoury dishes, however the flour is mostly used for injera. This is a sour fermented flatbread widely used in place of cutlery to scoop up and hold food.

Teff is so incredibly important to Ethiopia that export of the grain itself is prohibited. Only teff products and finely milled flours are allowed to leave the country. As such teff is expensive to buy over here, as even though it’s now grown in other countries it is still a niche product. Teff is naturally gluten-free but be wary of ordering injera in your local Ethiopian restaurant as it has more than likely been cut with wheat to be made more economically.

What are the nutritional benefits of teff flour?

Teff is gluten-free which is great news for coeliacs and the gluten-intolerant but it is also high in vitamins and minerals and is somewhat of a ‘superfood’. It has excellent amino acid composition, it is high in fibre and calcium – a cup of teff contains as much as half a cup of spinach. Teff is rich in iron, high in protein (in fact it provides Ethiopians with two-thirds of their dietary protein) and boosts Vitamin C (rare for a grain). It is also full of the resistant starch which helps to regulate blood sugars.

overhead view of brown teff flour on a wooden board with a spoon

What is the difference between ivory teff flour and brown teff flour?

There are several varieties of teff including red teff which all have a similar texture. However the most common might might come across are:

  • Ivory teff – mild and slightly sweet flavour
  • Brown teff – earthy in taste

overhead view of ivory teff flour on a wooden board with spoon

How can you use teff flour?

Teff flour bakes up superbly but it can have a slightly grainy consistency. I use it more prolifically in chocolate recipes where the chocolate smoothes out the graininess somewhat. And if you use it alongside ground nuts the graininess also gets lost.

Teff flour is not a gelatinous flour so cannot mimic the qualities of gluten. It is possible to use it as the sole flour in recipes as long as you are pairing it with chocolate or ground nuts. Otherwise you are best to blend it in your bake with a more ‘sticky’ flour like sweet rice flour or tapioca flour.

The main reason for using teff flour though is its wonderful malty molasses-like taste. It is such a fine tasting, flour and like many alternative flours, if used in the right cake, will support and enhance the flavours rather than providing a neutral background.

What flavours pair well with teff flour?

Deep and rich flavours pair very well with earthy teff flour. Try it in a coffee cake or spice cake. Teff also gets on especially well with banana, caramel, oats, nuts, honey but especially chocolate, like in these Mini Chocolate Peppermint Bundts.

Teff flour is also the perfect flour to use in your Christmas Pudding as it goes so well with the richly spiced flavours.

For inspiration on how to use teff flour have a look at these gluten-free recipes:

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Comments

  1. Joy Brothers says

    Hi Di, my name is Joy Brothers and I too live in Australia, in Meadowbrook. I found sweet rice flour at an Asian grocery shop, along with potato starch and it is very affordable, about $2.00 a bag. Hope you find this helpful.

  2. Dianne Fry says

    Hello Georgina,
    My name is Dianne (Di) and I’ve just joined your email mailing list. I live at Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia. I turned 70 back in March. I was diagnosed with celiac disease on 16th May – last week. I was thrown into chaos……what can I eat now.
    Searching through the internet I found your site, you were explaining about the pros and cons of Xanthan gum. Haven’t bought any because in my research I found that psyllium husk can be used in place of xanthan gum.
    But……to the point of my contacting you –
    Firstly, if I can’t buy your Teff flour here in Australia, would you like to suggest something else as a suitable substitute.
    And my second question is……how much psyllium husk would I use when making a cake……say for instance a carrot cake.
    Next I’d like to know…..Rice flour….. I’ve bought a small packet and it just says Rice Flour on the packet, nothing about sweet rice four, I’d never heard of sweet rice flour. Now, if I can’t get sweet, and I’m not too sure I want my pantry full of different flours, couldn’t I just sift in some icing sugar, which is obviously a soft powder.
    Think this’ll just about be enough for my first email to you Georgina.
    I do appreciate you taking the time to look at my email and I await your reply with interest.
    Thank you, Di.

    • Hi Dianne, you can certainly substitute teff flour for other flours. Depending on what you are making you can choose the flour to compliment the other ingredients. If you are substituting teff flour you want to choose another wholegrain flour like oat flour or sorghum. You can see the list on my Gluten-Free Flour Cheatsheet which you should have if you are on the mailing list. If not, you can download at this link.
      The amount of psyllium husk completely depends on your size of cake, the other ingredients etc. You shouldn’t really need psyllium husk in a cake recipe. It’s useful in bread recipes but I don’t really use it in cakes as I don’t find it’s needed if you are using a starchy flour in the blend.
      Which brings us to sweet rice flour (or glutinous rice flour as it is sometimes called) which is a starch. It is a completely different ingredient to regular rice flour which is a wholegrain flour. They will produce different results in the structure and texture of your bake and cannot be used interchangeably. You can read about the difference between the rice flours on my posts on sweet rice flour and rice flour. I don’t know how easily available sweet rice flour is in Australia but it is the most used flour in my kitchen for everyday use, not just baking. If you have any more questions feel free to email me at georgina@fromthelarder.co.uk any time and I’ll be happy to answer them.

      • Carol Millington says

        Hi Dianne, you can buy sweet rice flour in the asian section of the supermarket – in Coles it is usually on the bottom shelf also known as glutinous rice and next to that is another gluten free flour called tapioca flour. Much cheaper than anywhere else. At the moment I am trying to source white teff flour in Australia – not sure if it is the same as Ivory teff flour.

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