Sourdough Injera Recipe
I’m a big fan of Shipton Mill's flour, particularly their Finest Bakers White Bread Flour No.1.
When I recently ordered another batch of flour I noticed that they sell white teff flour. I’ve been meaning to try teff for a while and decided to add a bag to my order.
Teff is the grain of a species of lovegrass native to Ethiopia. It is high in dietary fibre, iron, calcium and protein. Furthermore it is gluten-free.
I have decided to try my hand at making Ethiopian pancakes, injera, as this is what teff flour is most commonly known for. I remember eating injera at Abyssinia, an Ethiopian restaurant in Windhoek, about 9 years ago. We sat on small woven stools around a little, intricately decorated table. The injera was served in this massive woven basket that sat squarely on this table. The accompanying stews were brought to us on a little trolley which the waiters spooned directly onto the spongy layers of injera. I remember the distinctly light and spongy texture of the slightly sour injera and how it beautifully complemented the various stews. Heaven!
Making injera is very similar to making sourdough bread, in that you make a fermented starter from the teff which you then use to leaven the batter that is used to make the pancake. I decided to skip the teff-based starter and used my San Francisco sourdough starter to leaven the batter instead.
So last night I mixed some of the teff flour with my starter and a bit of water to make a batter. Various recipes suggest using a mixture of plain flour and teff. I figured that if I wanted to get to grips with teff’s qualities I would have to use it exclusively. My only reservation was that the absence of gluten might make it less likely to be rolled up like a pancake. There was only one way to find out…
I left the mixture overnight to find a handful of bubbles and a bit of liquid swimming on top, but no sign of the batter having risen. It looked a lot like a dormant starter a few hours of its first feed. I decided to treat it that way too, and after I tipped away the liquid I gave the batter a good stir and immediately noticed a lot of bubbles suspended in it. This was a positive sign that things were happening beneath the surface. I duly covered it up again and left it to continue doing its yeasty business.
After a few hours I noticed that it had risen significantly and looked like this:
I figured that it was ready to be used… once a bit of salt was whisked into it.
I heated up the pan, wiped some sunflower oil on it and poured in a ladleful of the batter and swirled it around to cover the base. On went the lid to trap the steam and create a soft spongy injera. After around one minute I lifted the lid to find a lot of tiny holes in the surface and the injera coming away from the sides of the pan.
I lifted it onto a plate and covered it with foil to keep it warm whilst I made the rest.
Once done, I served the injera with a spicy lentil stew that I prepared earlier.