Flaxseed and Brown Teff Flour Scones

These are really quick to prepare.

The dough, if you can call it that, has an extremely strange texture.

Now, Dear Reader, I’ve had one failure, I tried making tortillas like my buckwheat ones and found that though teff absorbs a little water and hold itself together somewhat it is extremely sticky, like amaranth or quinoa in that regard. If it were used in pastry you’d need to mix it and honestly I have enough recipes using single flours so I feel no need to go to something like teff and try and make it work. Buckwheat remains king of the free from flours in my book, but teff is hanging in there so far with quinoa, the second best, and amaranth, an okay flour, but nutritionally varied. I have a lot of recipes, Dear Reader, I’ve made ones that I marvel at myself, that’s not arrogance just the truth that we’re only scraping the surface as to what can be done with these flours. If I were a professional, if I were making money on these recipes I might be more inclined towards pushing the envelope with teff flour, but I’ve been there with buckwheat, with quinoa, with rice flour, I’ve dabbled successfully with banana flour, amaranth, sorghum and maybe I’m forgetting a few. I’ve used flaxseed, ground pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds as flours. I’ve done a lot, Dear Reader, with very little guidance, so when I say teff has uses I’m looking for the easiest to predict and the most useful. It’s not that I can’t, though I can’t work miracles, not without added gums or starches, but that I don’t need to. that isn’t to say you can’t try, Dear Reader. As for me, well, I’ll have a lot more teff recipes before I’m done, I didn’t say I was done yet after all.

You can see where the dough hadn’t quite joined itself.

Rough and ready baking at its finest.

Imagine a water-balloon filled with wobbly jelly, feel it in your hands, jiggly it in your mind, Dear Reader, that’s what teff dough feels like here. It’s so alien I had no idea what it’d bake like. It didn’t work without the egg and flaxseed and with them it still has a slight stickiness, I used golden flaxseed, so brown might make it firmer and less sticky, I’ve found gold doesn’t absorb as well as brown, but tastes better. Teff seems to have it’s own inherent moisture, this is where it varies wildly from most other free-from flours, where ones like quinoa and amaranth can absorb a lot of liquid, not necessarily for the better at times, teff only needed 25 milliliters to be almost too wet. Why it has a better texture is beyond me, how a flour can be moist is a strange thing to think about, but it does. These are quick to make and created for that sole purpose, there are times when the freezer supplies have dwindled and I want something crusty and substantial. Where the buckwheat scones tend to be hard and brittle to the extreme these were at first brittle, I had to try one out of the oven to compare, when rested for an hour it was possibly to gentle cut it into two neat pieces, it didn’t fall apart as I ate either which is surprising. It has that springy texture that seems to be a given when using teff. It makes me curious about cutting it with other flours.

Cutting hot isn’t recommended.

Even when cutting cold a gentle cut is needed.

Again, the taste is really something to enjoy. It has a slight nutty, bran like taste, still hard to describe. Strong, but not overpowering. If I am going to make a teff scone to freeze it’ll be a take on my puree scone recipe, I have many, many scone recipes, Dear Reader, but still curiosity impels me. So, so far we know teff has a great taste, a pleasant moist texture, doesn’t have much stability for delicate uses like pastry and on the whole feels like a cross between quinoa and buckwheat, is a little like sorghum, but better in my opinion. As for the future, well, microwave recipes are a given as they’re almost always successful, quick too. I’m curious about cutting it with rice flour to see if the texture can overcome the dryness of rice flour. Using it with buckwheat would be interesting. For now I use up this bag, then the remaining quinoa flour and check dates on my usual staples, I try to avoid wasting food, Dear Reader, even if it’d just end up in the compost. So, stay tuned for more teff recipes, I don’t foresee anything groundbreakingly new, but you never know. Until later, Dear Reader, take care.

Ingredients

65g Brown Teff Flour
35g Ground Flaxseed/Golden Flaxseed
1 Medium Egg (60g-65g), Beaten
15g Sugar
15ml Olive Oil
1 Tsp Baking Powder

Makes 2 Large Scones.

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200c (Fan) and line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.

2. Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl and then stir, with a fork in the Olive Oil and Egg until the dough starts to come together, adding a splash of water as needed. Dough should be soft, wobbly and slightly sticky. Form into a ball and rest for 5 minutes.

3. After the 5 minutes are up, the dough should be slightly firmer. Split into two and roll each portion in a ball and press gently onto the prepared tray.

4. Bake for 20 minutes until scones are firm and a brown colour. Transfer to a wire-rack and let cool.

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The Fries We Tell Ourselves

Dear Reader, if there is one thing I do often worry about it’s the absurd titles that I use for these posts, there are so many reasons for them, often they are descriptive and other times they’re me sneaking in various pop culture references, but they do make things more personalised, it’s rare you’ll see a repeat of a post title like this on any other blog. I’m currently laughing far too much and I do actually have a serious post to write, nothing too deep, but something I feel worth discussing. Once I stop laughing. Just to stop any annoyance in not letting you in on the joke, well, joke might be stretching the facts a little, it’s a play on the inspiration for this post, I’ll get to that, and a song title from the game Finding Paradise called: The Fictions We Tell Ourselves.

I bought some butternut squashes to make Cottage Pies and I have found that for the last few months they haven’t been very good quality, the seed cavity has most extended into the topmost part making most of them a chore to carve as you get  very little flesh for your efforts, so to speed up or we’ll be here all night, I bought three and two sweet potatoes. I don’t hold fast to any recipes in the choice of vegetables used for the topping, variations are a wonderful break from the norm and require little effort to think up. When I cut the BNS I found they were much better than they have been, firmer, no stringy flesh, so I had a left over squash. I made rough squash fries, which I often think implies they’ll be crisp by the name alone, they were just thick cut lengths of squash with oil and seasoning with just a little honey, roasted until tender. Now in mentioning the “fries” moniker’s association with crispness I hit upon my main point. Not soon enough says you, Dear Reader. Heh.

Now, as I said I expended no great effort in this roasted squash, but when I pulled them from the oven the skin had blistered and coloured into a lovely browned orange. I wish I had taken a photo to illustrate my point coming. What made me stop was that if I posted this as a recipe, showed the photo and left the rest to your imagination, or perhaps disingenuously to my own creative machinations, I could fool anyone into thinking that they’d achieve a crisp, potato-like texture when in reality they were floppy and soft, delicious don’t mistake me, roasted squash is great if you have them at hand. But the fact I could easily manipulate your perception of a recipe’s result with a single photo is worrisome, I know it happens all too often. I’ve spoken before on the problem with presenting free-from recipes in this light and having beginners, and experienced bakers alike, feel they’ve failed to recreate it by their own fault rather than the fault of the person misrepresenting a recipe. It’s why I use so much description in my recipes, Dear Reader, rather than deception. I want you to know what you’ll achieve with any given recipe, I want you to have an honest assessment that’ll allow you to hold no unnatural expectations. A free-from diet is hard enough to maintain without pitfalls like this.

Never be afraid to question, Dear Reader, in time you’ll learn to look at any recipe and see how it will play out. I used to have issues with baked sweet potato fries, the various recipes promising the world and delivering disappointment tinged with self-deprecation at my own failure. Not to say we don’t all fail at times, Dear Reader, but we should be able to know for certain if it were truly us that failed. I’ll be back again, Dear Reader, I’m still playing with teff, but I have to keep up the rest of my diet too. It all requires balance. Until later, Dear Reader, take care.

Ah, Hubris…er, Humus

2016. For the newer Dear Readers and those who don’t print all these and make albums.

Ten months later in 2016.

The garden changes as time pass, I still have no idea where we’re headed.

It had a good run, Dear Reader, it started as a two Euro crate and finished as a collection of beautiful loamy, rich soil. About four hundred and sixty litres of soil, yes, I was shocked at how much had to be shovelled out too. Carefully amended over the years, stones removed so only two, yes really, remained, no trace of bindweed, truly Jack is what bindweed has nightmares of, and as it was transferred to the new pots it was amended again because I knew nothing when I started, Dear Reader, but I was never complacent, I knew that I couldn’t just toss clay, no traces of the old dry, clumping clay now, and leave it, I knew that I needed to give back to the soil that was giving to me in every harvest. So I enriched, I learned to compost, I turned soil, I weeded and de-stoned and today, I took the final step and this is really dramatic isn’t it? Heh. I saw it was bulging too much, the second isn’t because it leaned into the wall, but I will empty it eventually, and knew it was time. I had just drilled those pots as yesterdays weather was unseasonably warm and I took my chance. You might question the fact I had ground to work and I could’ve dug out beds, but you’ve never seen the weeds that ran deep, nor have you dug the soil there that was hard and compacted. I have, I dug a hole about four or five feet deep for our Old English Mastiff, again as wide. His is the pot. If I were a team of gardeners I might have kept it, but one large vegetable bed was enough to manage. Now I have eleven pots to plant in, just a little shy of the dept of he raised bed, even though it doesn’t look it, and I can move them as I see fit. I even had two bags of the recycled stones left to cover the bald patch.

The fence pots are out.

It’ll be a while before they’re filled, but I needed to clear the shed.

It really is amazing what you can do with so little, even if there’s a lot in the garden it isn’t that large of a space, I just make sure that none of it is wasted. Hence the filled cistern. I’ve had to teach myself every step of the way, I really knew nothing starting, teach myself how to manage soil, to prepare for landscaping, so much and I’ve enjoyed every minute, Dear Reader, there are momentary worries, that I’ll spend too much, which is silly as each year is investment in the future garden, or that it’ll somehow fail and I won’t be able to continue. I’m too hard on myself, I know that, but on days like this when I can go out and do something with the surety it’ll work then I’m very glad I started. There’s still so much to learn, so much yet to share, I hope you’ll stick with me, Dear Reader.

Brown Teff Flour Savoury Waffles

Ah, the delicious chocolate mousse…oh, no, sorry.

Ah, Dear Reader, we’re onto the second teff recipe, for the future Dear Readers the first was here, and it’s not the most exciting of recipes. I use waffles like these as a quick bread, they’re extremely basic, probably a far cry from your more conventional waffles, not that I’d now anything about them as I never ate them when I could, I’ve missed out on a lot, Dear Reader. Still, I have a lot yet to try, these are one of the handiest recipes I have, I usually fill them like a sandwich. Today I used chicken seasoned with my neglected Nightshade Free Taco Seasoning, I can’t remember if I’d gone off nightshades before I started on the blog, but, well, I was a fiend for chillies and anything spicy, it taught me a lot, the most important was of course that I couldn’t eat anything like that. Such is my journey, Dear Reader, but today let’s talk teff.

Now, I knew if the bread worked this would, the only times I’ve had waffles fail was with Amaranth Flour because it just creates sticky messes unless blended with another flour, the joys of free-from baking discoveries are endless, Dear Reader. The only question here was texture, sometimes you don’t get the texture you’d expect, with quinoa flour I’d hoped it’d achieve a crust like the bread, but sadly no, it cooks too fast for that. Teff here actually stands out in a special way, it still has that more moist texture, better than buckwheat and much better than rice flour in that regard, but what really shines is that nutty taste. Even with spiced meat and cheese it still stood out to my, well honestly damaged, taste-buds, have to be blunt at times, Dear Reader, there are times I can’t even taste. What exactly it reminds me of is still eluding me, it has a lightly roasted nut taste, really pleasant. I’m thinking if it’s still available when my rice flour runs out I may replace it with teff. So, you basically get a firm, spongy waffle, a subtle nutty taste and a deceptive colour and all in a matter of minutes. Teff has been intriguing so far, usually taste is the least promising and sometimes least pleasing aspect of free-from flours, amaranth and quinoa both can be bitter and earthy, buckwheat is strong tasting, though I’m used to it now and love it, but teff stands out for that. It also retains moisture well. That’s two checks in its favour, next I’ll have to use recipes that test its strength and stability. All things in time, Dear Reader, take care.

They really do resemble something made of chocolate.

Ingredients

100g Brown Teff Flour
125ml Water
1 Medium Egg, 60g-65g in Shell
15ml Olive Oil
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
Pinch Salt

Makes 4 Waffles.

Method

1. Turn on Waffle Iron. Beat the Egg, Olive Oil and Salt until combined, then beat in Flour and Baking Powder. Finally add water, gradually, until a stirrable, but still thick batter has formed.

3. Add enough Batter to warmed Waffle Iron to fill the plates, close and cook for 7-10 minutes until waffles are chocolate brown, dry and firm. Remove with a rubber spatula and let cool for a few minutes, Waffles will crisp up further as they cool.

Brown Teff Flour Bread

Online you can buy plant stands and free-from flours.

It has a distinct colour and smell. Sweetly something annoyingly familiar.

Half for the trial, a full loaf will be fine.

This has been on the cards for a long time, Dear Reader, I had to wait many, many years to get cheap safe gluten free teff flour, but I did and thanks to the many preparations and trials of other free-from flours I’m more than ready, but first let’s see what I’ve managed to gather about this…seed? Grain? It doesn’t seem to be clear so we’ll g with grain to avoid mis-marking the recipe grain free for now. So, I’m using brown teff, there is a white teff too, surprisingly it isn’t the unhulled version, just a darker seed, both have slightly different tastes from what I’ve read. I’ll try both in time if possible. It reminds me of raw nuts, maybe cashews because there’s a slight sweetness, chestnut maybe?, but also a hint of something more akin to buckwheat. In time I’ll nail down the taste, for now this is my first trial, ever actually, and I always have a list of what I’ll make to maximise the bag of flour, if it’s a waste then I’ve learned something at least, if it’s worthwhile then I no longer have to worry whenever I have to bake with it again. I don’t just look up recipes, I tried that and it went nowhere every other time. Instead I look at what I have and at this stage I have amble to modify, then I learn the limits and strengths and decide the best way to utilise this flour. I’ve learned vastly more than if I’d just blended it. I am the single flour baker after all, Dear Reader!

New bird: A Chaffinch.

It smells wonderful as it cooks.

It stuck slightly, though it could be the tin, but line regardless.

I’ve often talked about how free-from baking is still in its infancy, there are so many things we have yet to discover. One of the issues I know people will face that this is not the bread they’re used to, it can’t be, but it is worth eating and often people who don’t hold onto preconceptions tend to enjoy the end product a lot more than those who do. This isn’t gluten based baking, it’s its own diverse genre, the biggest difference is that these batter breads rely on baking for stabilisation rather than while mixing, or gums and starches, it means you have a different texture and little to no crust, but it also means the preparation time is cut down as is the difficulty, once someone like Jack here does the hard work. You know whatever I tell you hear I swear by absolutely, if it fails then I will find out why, I will not share an uncertain recipe, though this is the first trial I have made these kinds of breads so often I know what to look for, I won’t ever tell you to do something I won’t stand behind one hundred percent, Dear Reader, but know that different flours have completely different results, even when using raw and roasted, so if you have an issue tell me and I’ll see what I can deduce, but know that a recipe is only as good as it can be when followed exactly.

Cut out of the oven. It resembles a treacle bread in colouration.

Cut in half and then I cut the halves again later. No crumbs.

I know this post is dry, Dear Reader, but you have to take a serious methodical approach to get all the information down while it’s still fresh, in time I’ll retain what I need to keep using the flour, but the finer, early details will be lost. So, the batter first, it has a slightly glossy look and does thicken slightly, enough to be worth resting. It has a cloudy chocolate colour, more like something that was already cooked. There is a sweet aroma, but the taste is milder. I have a lot of plans so I’ll get to grips with the flavour profile in time. The batter got a nice rise as you can see and had only very slight cracking. What was interesting was the texture even in the tin, it was slightly…not rubbery, but you know what I mean, it’s as if there were a rind or skin around the inner loaf. Probably why it stuck slightly. The inner has a dense, springy, spongy feel to it that is in no way dry. It will need something to spread on it, but it lacks the choking dryness that buckwheat flour, I love it, but it is a dry flour, in this preparation has. I use flax to counter that, but it’s unnecessary here. Now it cut, without crumbs or crumbling, five minutes out of the oven. Which is great. The texture is really wonderful, similar to Quinoa Flour Bread, but with a taste more like buckwheat. Though I’d say quinoa bread has the texture that suits toasting or soaking. I don’t think this would absorb liquids all that well and if it’s like buckwheat toasting might actually be detrimental to the taste and texture. I’ve frozen part and see no reason it won’t be fine.

This, Dear Reader, at it’s heart is just a basic preparation, edible, but it would benefit from additions, what it does is it teaches the taste, texture, strength and value of the flour. You could make this over months and each time you’d learn something new, that’s what my many buckwheat breads have done for me, it’s why I can write all I write with such certainty. I don’t know if teff will ever be a staple in my kitchen, it may never need to be, but it pays to be prepared. As for future recipes, there are many, but they’ll skew the savoury, I’m unlikely to make anything very sweet with this for the time being. Not to say there won’t be some sweet recipes, but tarts and pastries would be a further bag consideration. Flatbreads or “tortillas” might be made as a test of stability for pastry though. We’ll see. All I’m making I eat so I have to keep it in balance, if I only ate teff for days it may have a negative effect on my mood, eating too much of the same can be stressful when you’re already restricted in your food choices, Dear Reader and I’m only one person, I can only do so much. It’s up to you, Dear Reader to look at what I’m doing and improve upon it. As I’ve said I’ll stick to my own recipes for the time being, that might change, but when I’m done there’ll be ample teff recipes. You can count on that or my name isn’t Jack, er, you know what I mean! Pretend Jack, signing off, take care, Dear Reader.

PS: In thinking on it I might mark this as Brown Teff Flour, when I try white it might be different so better to be sure.

Ingredients

200g Brown Teff Flour
120ml Water
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Large Eggs
1/3 Tbsp Baking Soda
Pinch of Salt

Makes one small loaf.
Can be frozen.

Method

1. Preheat oven to 175c (No Fan).

2. Fully line a 6×3 inch loaf pan.

3. In a large bowl mix together the Egg, Olive Oil and Salt. Add the Teff Flour and Baking Soda and stir until combined, then gradually add the Water and stir until a thick, but stirrable Batter has been formed. Add more Water if too thick. Rest for 5 minutes.

4. Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes, turning halfway if needed, until dark brown and a skewer comes out clean.

5. Cool in tin for 10 minutes, then remove and let cool completely on a wire rack.

The Greenhouse Shuffle

Cistern? Excuse me, but this is a porcelain plant…yeah, it’s a gutted cistern.

First upgrade of the year. The No-Falling-Into-The-Greenhouse Second Block Step System.

Comes in parts of two.

Yes, Dear Reader? No, no I will never stop recycling for the garden and if you think I was going to let a little thing like having absolutely no idea how to remove the working of a cistern stop me then you don’t know Jack. I just had to use a bolt-cutters and a hacksaw. With great anger I wrested the ballcock free and have a white planter just in need of filling with flowers, preferably a cascading variety. Funnily I was looking for something white for the garden. The colour of pots rarely matters in the Spring or Summer, but in the Winter they help reduce the bleakness. I took the slightly drier weather as a sign it was time to do that old step: The Greenhouse Shuffle. Sadly, no matter how much feed spills inside it never grows any bigger.

The wormery will be leaving once the seed starting starts in earnest.

Those rose cuttings are from a green shoot of the rambler, no roots at the bottom yet.

This use to be at least one grow-house.

So, the biggest change is that the five tier shelf has become two two tier ones, the bottom never sees much light so it’ll be used as storage and the problem with a solid shelf is no light really gets to the bottom tiers so you have two at most and the top is too high to use without a counter weight below. So, instead I opted for this, I can place pots all over it, large five litre herb pots, and with the other shelves where they are it’s much easier to slip in and out trays, whereas last year they were behind pots and each other and if they’re blocked even slightly it becomes an exercise in frustration. I learn a little each year, Dear Reader, it’s not a huge space, but I like to make use of it to the best of my abilities using what staging I have. The major issue is it’s so tall, must be eight feet, that you feel the vertical space is wasted, but if you stack too high you run the risk of everything tumbling, so I’ll be smarter this year.

Slightly battered, but still going. Both the sage and the shelving.

This was a squash pot, but I’ve gotten a larger one so this is tentatively a chilli pot, another filled pot will probably follow.

I enjoying sharing these mundane steps to growing food because it really lets you see a side you may not see all that often, certainly rarely with the honesty Jack shares with. I have no grand notions of the garden and if I’m honest I’ll say I have only a vague idea where the whole process is going at any time, it’s like a puzzle that changes when a new piece is introduced. You can see it throughout, Dear Reader, the blocks as steps were brought in over time and left here, the stones are a mixture of bought and used, mostly used, what a wonderful gift, they’ve made such difference. You can see the future taking shape too, the wormery’s leachate, strangely bright orange, blame the rooibos, that’ll be one of the many sources of natural fertilizer, I still have a mind to use dandelion root tea this year too, that I’ve never tried. I have the sprayer that was being thrown away too so I can use it to foliar feed plants. Sounds good, doesn’t it, Dear Reader? Makes it sound like I’m certain about anything, heh, that’d be dull. I know enough to know that I don’t know enough yet, Dear Reader. I’ll be back again soon, Dear Reader, take care.

Who Planted All These Weeds?

The White Crocuses always come early and take a beating. I moved them so let’s hope they survive until they open.

Pretty sure this primrose came from the graveyard dump.

I’m not superstitious, just thrifty. I’d take grave dirt, but it’s frowned upon (Probably illegal too).

I’m joking of course, Dear Reader, unless you’re willing to hold the flashlight. There seems to have been a clerical error in regards daffodils and the planting of because I have them everywhere and that’s not bragging, it’s just absurd that they’re so abundant, in pots, with the roses, with the tulips, in places I’m sure I never put them. Still, they were being thrown out and I hate to see anything wasted, I’m currently awaiting a used toilet cistern for conversion into a planter, partly because it’d be unusual and partly because, again, it’d be thrown away. You know me, Dear Reader, I’d put a toilet in the garden and fill it with flowers because it’d be hilarious.

The freesia that needed a heatwave to start are starting to flower.

The potentilla is coming back strong, the birds keep perching on it.

The outer snowdrops are my, supposedly giant, ones, the inner are a very old transplant.

I managed to weed the garden today, cleaning up old shoots that haven’t full broken down as new ones appear, the very mild weather makes timing tricky. I will need to do some heavy duty bowing to clear the leaves, but that will require much drier streaks of weather. There is a lot of green, which is hard to photograph in an interesting way, there isn’t much to it from a distance, just specs of green and up close there is just a green shoot. It should look beautiful as the months go on, there are a lot of flowers, plenty of new ones too, so if the weather is good we will have a colourful Spring. This is the frustrating time between Winter and Spring, I think Vonnegut called it unlocking and that’s exactly it. Something is opening slowly and rushing will get me nowhere, but further frustrated. For now I take what I can get and keep everything as ready as I can.

I made Buckwheat Crepes.

Just to show they do fold.

I was tempted to buy some corn tortillas that came back into stock, but I’d have to buy a lot and that’d mean I’d end up trying to use them up and that isn’t going to mesh with my current eating habits. Let sleeping dogs lie and all that, consistency is king as far as my diet goes. So I made a batch of crepes, two went into the freezer, though I’ve had trouble defrosting them before, I froze them flat and will use the microwave instead of just letting them defrost. I found one problem I’d been having was due to my spatula, whenever I’d flip a crepe I’d end up getting oil on it and rubbing it onto the crepe when I flipped or moved it, which in turn made the centre greasy and raw looking, which meant I’d try to cook them further to counter that perceived rawness and would cook them too much thus making them hard. With a quick wipe here and there I ended up with perfectly cooked crepes. The’re very plain which is ideal for filling, the batter will be extremely watery, but it needs to be that way. I heat the butter, take it off the heat, leave it for a minute then add half a pan of batter and gently swirl, so, so slowly, circling the edges again an again, that guarantees super thin crepes. That seems to be the knack to making crepes: Move at a snail’s pace. That’s it for today, Dear Reader, take care.