Tonight is an exciting night. Tonight, I'm making Ethiopian food for the first time. During my time as a grad student, I barely cooked (or wrote) anything, let alone something new. So, I'm very excited to be doing something new tonight.
A few days ago, I started preparing the dough to make Injera, the national bread of Etiopia and, as far as I'm going to count, my first sourdough bread. The recipe is really simple, once you've found some teff flour. All you do is mix it with water and wait for it to start to go bad!
Aside from finding the teff flour, the other difficult part of this (and it gets much easier afterwards) is finding berbere spice mix. I have no idea where to do this in Kitchener, so I found this recipe that suggests how you can make your own. It doesn't contain ground lentils, which another site suggested was part of the mix, but I'm not one to work too hard at accuracy. I'll be using tomato sauce instead of tomato paste, as well, and grinding up my own chilis, probably with a blender (I did end up doing that, and only using half the suggested amount).
I found a helpful article on the Toronto Sun website that contains some vegetarian recipes for the various toppings that go on the Injera, so I'll use that!
After sitting out for a day, covered with a damp towel, the teff mixture smelled a bit odd, which seemed right for sourdough. I had tried to make the batter once before, and it had grown mold, being left alone for three days. That might just be our apartment in the summer, though. I wonder if the wintertime would require a longer fermentation time.
Ideally, the bread is made like a thick crepe, but it didn't run very quickly in my pan, so it ended up fairly thick and misshapen, but it did bubble in a way similar to the bread I've gotten at restaurants. Apparently, many Ethiopian places in North America cut their teff flour with wheat flour in order to make the flavor less intense, and I wonder how that affects the consistency of the dough itself. I might have to try, just to see if it makes it easier to cook.
Lately, I've gotten into the habit of baking my own bread. It always send a little odd going to the store and spending 3 or 4 dollars on something so simple, and I've always wanted to try it, so about a month ago, I gave it a shot.
I was surprised that I didn't need to do any substitutions, but I suppose that bread would be one of the first things people would figure out, even if it were a milk our eggs heavy recipe. I was inspired by Minecraft, which I am currently enthralled by. I will probably have to write about that separately, but the important part was the pride I felt when I finally figured out how to craft bread to survive in the game.
Here's the recipe:
Simple Wheat Bread
1 packet active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup sugar (or honey)
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
1 cup oats
3/4 c. ground (in food processor)
1/4 c. whole
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
Combine the sugar, water and yeast in a small bowl, let them sit and do their thing for 10 minutes or so, and assemble the dry ingredients while you wait!
Blend 3/4 of the cup of oats.
Mix whole wheat flour, oil, gluten, 1 c. bread flour, all of the oats, and salt in a big bowl.
Add the yeast to the dry ingredients and mix. Add in the last cup of bread flour - the dough should be sticky but hold together.
Let rise 1 hour.
Punch down the dough, separate into two equal pieces, put into oiled bread pans, and allow to rise another hour.
Bake in preheated oven for a half hour at 350 Fahrenheit for a light crust, 450 F for a dark crust.
Remove loaves from bread pan and place on cooling rack.