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Anonymous Modernist 15340

The science of injera, the East-African flat bread

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Hello there,

This is a tricky one, I promise! :)

Injera is a flat bread mostly prepared in Ethiopia and Eritrea. It's a very spongy, but not rubbery, and it has a nice sour taste.

Originally it is done with teff, which is a local crop in that region, and it has the property of not containing any gluten (this explains the lack of rubbery texture I suppose).

It is prepared mixing teff flour (sometimes mixed with sorghum flour, to save on the precious teff) with water, forming a liquid but dense batter. Something similar to a pancake batter in terms of viscosity.

No yeast is added, but it will be left to rest and ferment for something between 3 days and a week.

After that some hot water is added one hour before the final step, which is cooking injera.

The procedure is illustrated in this video:

As a curious engineer, with an Eritrean mother, I've always been fascinated by this flat bread and I tried to replicate the results without using teff, but with no success so far.

I manage to get the bubbles right (sometimes), but the texture of my injera is always very rubbery, no matter what kind of method I use to try to get rid of it (toasting the wheat flour before using it for the batter, or using an immersion blender on the batter).

Any suggestion is most welcome! :)

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Yeast is everywhere. While it's not added by you the bread picks some up before it can ferment. The fermentation is what will add the bubbles. Most flavors from it will typically burn out during cooking. I'm thinking lactic acid would be one of the things that could last through the fire.

It's rubbery here at our Ethiopia restaurants so I don't have a good idea of the texture you're going for. Reading around online about 'rubbery breads' people are posting different types of solutions. From adding more water to going with better yeast.

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