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A Deliciously Simple Cake and TEFF!

May 1, 2015

So easy - Literally melt & mix!

                                              So easy – Literally melt & mix!

These days everybody knows quinoa. Its popularity became rife in the mid-2000s as a gluten-free superfood. In recognition of its health benefits, especially compared to other grains like wheat, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization declared 2013 “The International Year of the Quinoa.” But there’s a new grain (actually seed) gaining traction in kitchens worldwide, that is in many respects healthier and more ethical than quinoa. It’s called teff.

Cultivated in Ethiopia and Eritrea for anywhere between three and six thousand years, teff is best known as the main ingredient in the spongy and sour injera flat-bread. The teff seed, as small as a poppy seed, is packed with protein and nutrients and they call it Ethiopia’s second gift to the world – the first being coffee.

It’s huge production potential has protected the Ethiopians from hunger during food scarcity. One pound of teff can produce up to one ton of grain in only 12 weeks. This amount is hundreds of times smaller than that required for planting wheat.

Like quinoa, teff is a gluten-free grain and is one of the most nutritionally impressive. It has a high calcium, iron & protein content and contains all eight vital amino acids.

Despite having a higher carbohydrate content than quinoa, teff is high in resistant starch, which helps blood sugar management, weight control, and colon health. Quinoa’s carbs are mainly starch and insoluble fibre.

The seeds can be white or brown or red and produce a fine flour that can be used to make breads, biscuits and cakes. I find the brown teff easier to find. Brown teff has a subtle hazelnut, almost chocolate-like flavour and a moist texture similar to millet. White teff has a milder flavour than the brown.

It has similar versatility to corn meal and millet. Delicious in porridge, stews, stuffing, and pilaf, teff can be cooked alone or in combination with other grains and vegetables. Teff is quick cooking and there is no need to pre-rinse. Boil 1 cup of grain in 3 cups of water for 20 minutes. They also use it in gluten free beer.

On its own, teff can be a bit heavy – especially unfermented˜, I like to mix it with gluten free flour to achieve a lighter result in my baking as I have done in this recipe. Yes, I know – another chocolate cake recipe – there can never be enough! The flavour of teff goes so well with chocolate. This cake is an easy mix, light and moist. The recipe is very versatile. It can be made dairy-free and/or nut-free depending on the fat you use. It makes great cupcakes, as it does a layer cake to be filled with cream. It is also resilient enough to make chocolate lamingtons if you bake it in a tray. It is quite a large recipe so halve the quantity to make 8 cupcakes or keep a full quantity to make 2 round cakes to be filled.

120g teff seeds – brown, red or white

120g dark chocolate (I use sugar free, dairy free)

250g dandelion tea (or water or black coffee)

150g butter or 120g olive oil (or macadamia oil)

40g cacao powder

150g gluten-free flour*

150g rapadura sugar (add a little stevia if you like it sweeter)

3 eggs – 4 if small

3 teas baking powder

1 teas apple cider vinegar

Mill the teff seeds on SP 9 for a full minute. It may look right after 45 seconds but can be gritty if under milled. Set aside.

Grind the chocolate & sugar for 5 seconds on SP 8. Add the tea (or water) and the butter (or oil) and mix on SP 3 for 3 minutes at 50°C.

Add the remaining ingredients and blend on SP 6 for 20 seconds. It will be a smooth batter, almost like thick cream consistency. Pour into a cupcake tray and bake for 12 minutes at 170°C. Do not over cook as they can dry out.

Top with frosting or ganache or leave plain. The kids will love this after-school treat! Or serve warm with my nut free chocolate sauce and ice-cream for a winter dessert!

If making a large tray for lamingtons, bake for 45 minutes at 170°C or until a skewer comes out clean.

*Gluten free flours vary greatly – if not using my own recipe I will use the Orgran brand as it has no soy and is not too “ricey”. Gluten free flours tend to be very thirsty and can dry out easily. If you try this recipe and it seems a bit stiff, add a little more water. Find other great gluten free flour mixes from my friends, Leslie and Jo; here and here.

˜I am looking forward to experimenting with fermenting it to make injera.

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