Teff Browines are soft and moist with a rich chocolate flavor. And best of all, they are gluten-free. The brownies are made with teff flour, a grain which originated in Ethiopia and now is grown in several western states. At our recent family reunion, the Idaho cousins and farmers shared their business of growing and milling teff grain. I was excited that they brought several samples of teff flour along to share.
Wonder how many folks can say they have a family member who has a business of milling crops for their seeds? Wayne and Jan are farmers in southwestern Idaho in the Lower Snake River Valley. Over the years, Wayne has developed a highly specialized type of farming: growing and milling various crops for their seeds such as onions, oriental radishes, lettuce. And he grows and mills teff grain.
Teff grain is grown in Ethiopia and is a staple food in their diet. It is used to make injera, a sourdough (fermented) flatbread. The bread is served at meals with a platter of food and is the bread is used to scoop up the food — no silverware is included at the meal.
Ethiopia, a country in Africa, is reportedly where civilization began. Teff was one of the earliest plants domesticated in the Ethiopian highlands, originating between 4,000 B.C. and 1,000 B.C. This country has thrived for thousands of years; a clue which attests to the nutritional value of teff. (Another crop which originated in this area of the world is the coffee bean.)
Nutritional Value of Teff
Teff grain is packed with nutrition. For vegetarians it has a well-balanced mix of essential amino acids with a higher lysine content than other grains. Teff is high in iron, calcium, phosphorus, copper manganese, zinc and B-complex vitamins. It is high in fiber and non-digestible starch — contributing to glucose control. And it is gluten-free.
Cooking with Teff
The teff grain is a tiny seed, about the size of a poppy seed. Teff is usually ground into flour and used in recipes. It has a nutty flavor, reminiscent of hazelnuts and it has a hint of chocolate. Teff can be served as a cooked porridge or incorporated into pancakes, flat bread, waffles, crepes. Because teff does not contain gluten, it crumbles if used for yeast bread. The brownies made a perfect way to use teff flour.
Wayne began growing the teff as a field crop about 20 years ago. The rich soil and dry climate of the Snake River Valley was similar to the highlands of Ethiopia making it a logical place to grow this grain. Eventually Wayne’s business evolved into milling the crop — receiving the crop from fields and culling out a high quality and purified grain. Because this is the only grain that Wayne mills at this facility, there is no chance of cross-contamination with other gluten-containing crops. Here Wayne describes the process he uses.
Wayne is the supplier for The Teff Company, of Boise, Idaho. This company further mills the teff grain into flour and markets the finished flour and whole grain. These products can be purchased mail-order if there is not a local source for teff products.
Here’s the recipe which Wayne and Jan shared with us. It is a delicious brownie.
Teff Brownies with Hazelnuts
From Jan Snavely.
- 4 oz unsalted butter, plus some for greasing pan
- 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 extra large eggs at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup teff flour
- 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
- 1 cup chocolate chips
Instructions and Steps:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8″ square baking pan with aluminum foil letting foil hang over edges of pan. Butter the foil. Set aside.
- Place butter and coarsely chopped unsweetened chocolate in large microwaveable-safe bowl. Cover loosely with wax paper. Microwave on high for one minute. Remove from microwave. Use hot pads; mixture is hot.
- Whisk and stir until the chocolate is dissolved and mixed with the butter. Cool to room temperature.
- Add the sugar and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir vigorously until well combined with the butter/chocolate.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add vanilla extract and stir in.
- Add the teff flour and fold in using a rubber spatula.
- Add the chopped hazelnuts and chocolate chips and stir in.
- Pour into prepared 8″ square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes until the brownies pull away from the edges of the pan and the center begins to set.
- Cool for 15 minutes or more until foil can be handled. Remove from pan using foil to lift out. Cool on baking rack, then cut into squares.