In my recent post about flour types I mentioned -- somewhat tongue-in-cheek -- that I had never tried Teff because no one had ever given me any. A generous reader decided to change that, and used Amazon.com's wishlist to send me both some Teff flour and some Clear Jel. I haven't had the chance yet to experiment with the Jel, but I have made a couple of things with Teff that I wanted to report on.
Part of the challenge here is that while I am a chemist, I am not a food or flavorings chemist. Part of what that means is that I don't know the standard vocabulary for describing taste. Odorant and Flavouring Chemists tend to have defined words like Musky, Fresh, and Green that mean specific things. I haven't been initiated into that world, but likely neither have any of you, so I guess we are even. My point is, I described both amaranth and buckwheat as tasting bitter and they obviously don't taste the same. Teff and whole wheat don't taste the same either, but they share a certain je ne sais quoi that I don't have the vocabulary to describe. In the future if I want something to have a more whole grain type flavour, Teff seems like the flour I would want to include.
The day after the Teff arrived, The Maestro decided he wanted pancakes. I decided to try my standard pancake recipe with 1/3 Teff flour in place of my standard sorghum/tapioca mix. Upon mixing, the batter was dark -- almost like a chocolate shake. The difference in taste, compared to my previous pancakes, remided me most of the difference between using all-purpose wheat flour or whole wheat. Teff isn't bitter, or nutty (a sometimes too-common flavour word). The word that comes to mind is dusky, like twilight. I don't know if that will have any resonance with you or not, but I haven't been able to come up with a better word. They seemed like a wholesome whole wheat GF pancake. Really good.
Yesterday we needed some muffins, and I didn't have a lot of time to scout out ingredients. So, I ended up making chocolate chip muffins and I again used 1/3 Teff in place of some of my usual sorghum/tapioca/rice mixture. They didn't turn out bad, but they didn't turn out as well as the pancakes. You might think, based on my description of the pancakes, that there might be something somewhat incongruent about chocolate chips and a whole-wheat-y Teff muffin. You would be right. Chocolate Chip muffins are a dessert type treat. Whole Wheat muffins are more of a wholesome solid breakfast item, so the combination wasn't so well matched. I think Raisins or some other fruit would go better.
I'm not sure if I would ever use more than 50% Teff flour in something. You might decide to do that you would like more Teff. I think that too much Teff would give a dark, almost dusty flavour. It certainly wouldn't be like using too much amaranth, though. The effect on texture seems similar to using sorghum, so again, I don't see anything prohibitive of using more Teff than I have yet. It just has a dusky basal flavour, so I think it needs something with higher fresh flavour notes to balance it out. But I'm not a flavourings chemist, and I might just be making that up.