Teff stuff

“I discovered ancient grains — many are gluten-free — but since it was difficult to make something good with them, that led to more research,” said Laverne Matias, co-founder of Bacano Bakery in Emeryville, Calif., a dedicated gluten-free artisanal bakery. “I felt it was important to honor the properties of the ancient flours; I started to have fun with it, figuring out how we can enhance characteristics of specific flours.”

Gluten-free boules at Bacano Bakery are made with teff and flavored with kalamata olives.

With its earthy freshness, teff is one of Mr. Matias’ favorites — he even uses it in a sourdough starter — though he finds it’s challenging to work with since “it doesn’t want to absorb liquid.”

In Ethiopia, calcium-rich teff is ground into flour and fermented to make the region’s traditional injera, a spongy flatbread. Because of the grain’s gluten-free properties, it’s increasingly being used in the U.S. in snacks and breads.

Mr. Matias currently uses teff in several bread formulas, including a vegan kalamata olive and herb boule that’s 50% teff flour with no added starches or xantham gum, and a sweet, maple-molasses ginger bread (40% teff).

“Usually in gluten-free baking, breads are mainly made with rice flours,” he explained, but loaves like Bacano’s multigrain, which combines millet, sorghum, teff and flaxmeal, use tapioca and almond flours instead.