100% Teff Sourdough Bread Recipe

Teff Basics

The first thing you need to know about teff is that it's a wild card, but only in the best possible way.  Unlike other gluten-free grains, teff is the most flexible GF grain for baking, and it's also the most variable grain I've ever worked with for flavor.  Nutty, earthy, sour, sweet, spicy, and mild are all flavors that I've gotten from teff bread.  I'm still not always sure how to control the flavor, I'm just along for the ride.

Teff is one of the world's tiniest grains and has been used in sourdough bread for as long as 40,000 years.  (See this recipe for traditional injera flatbread.)  It comes in two main varieities in the USA, brown and ivory, though many other varieties exist.  It comes originally from Africa. However, Idaho seems to have a climate conducive to growing it, so that is where much of the teff is grown here in the USA.  Bob's Red Mill, Maskal and Judee's are the three brands I buy. (I've included affiliate links to these products on Amazon but you might be able to find better prices direct from the mills.)  There are several others, but these are the brands I've found that are certified gluten free and seem to have good manufacturing practices to keep them separate from gluten.

100% Brown teff bread at a medium hydration, 100% Ivory teff bread at a lower hydration.

Last week I wrote about making single flour bread with yeast and introduced the tortilla test for creating your own recipe.  This week, I want to give you a 100% teff sourdough bread recipe.

What's really the most amazing thing about teff is its performance in gluten-free baking.  In my last post I talked about the tortilla test and how it's used to determine the correct hydration of a dough.  This is really important in GF baking because most gluten-free flours have such a narrow window for a good hydration.  

Tortilla test: slightly too dry

Torilla test: perfect
This is where teff differs from other flours the most: it has an enormously wide window for hydration, possibly more than wheat flour does.  This gives any teff recipe a lot of leeway in how much water can be used, depending on the results you want to get out of the flour.  It can also be used at very high hydrations up to 120% which lends it a lot of extensibility, much more than most flours.  I've done the tortilla test on teff many times and also baked numerous 100% teff loaves.  I've determined the hydration range for teff in my climate is around 70-120%. (For comparison, an AP white wheat flour might have a hydration range of 50-75%, and millet has a range of 60-70%).


Here's a quick reference for teff facts:

  • VARIETIES. Brown and ivory teff flour are interchangeable in any recipe.  The color is different, the flavor is slightly different, but the performance is the same.
  • MILLING. Teff is one of the smallest grains in the world but it can still be milled at home with a good grain mill.
  • WHOLE GRAIN. Teff is a whole grain - ivory teff is just a different color of varietal, it's not de-germed.  It's high in fiber and protein.
  • HYDRATION RANGE. Teff has a huge hydration range at which it still works, which I've measured at 70-120% hydration.
  • FLAVOR. The flavor of teff can vary wildly based on other ingredients in the dough, as well as fermentation time, temperature, and hydration.
  • FLAVOR ENHANCEMENTS. Bringing out different flavors: milk or whey products make teff bread taste nuttier, somewhat like hazelnut. Molasses makes it taste a little spicy like cinnamon and cloves.
  • FERMENTATION. Teff ferments very well and quickly.  It's one of the grains that's considered the best gluten-free substitute for rye flour.  This recipe doesn't include any sugar because it doesn't need it to rise, however, it can be added for a quicker rise or more flavor.


100% Ivory Teff
100% Teff Sourdough Bread Recipe

Gluten free, dairy free, vegan, egg free, sugar free

Making the sourdough culture: 3 days

Mixing ingredients: 10 minutes

rest time: 2 hours

Rise time: 4-6 hours

Bake time 30-40 minutes


This recipe yields a small loaf, what I call a half loaf.  I have not tried doubling it yet but feel free to experiment. This recipe can easily be mixed by hand but you can also make it in a stand mixer.

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl or stand mixer:

200g brown or ivory teff flour

10g powdered or ground psyllium husk

4g salt

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients

50g teff sourdough starter (click here to find the method for creating it)

240g spring water (use less for a firmer loaf, or more for a more flexible loaf.)

When the ingredients are fully mixed, let the dough rest for two hours to allow the psyllium to hydrate.

After resting, remix or knead the dough until smooth.  Shape the dough into a boule and place in a banneton or towel-lined bowl seam-side up.

Shaped boule placed seam-side up

Boule fully proofed (~5 hours)

Leave the dough to rise for 4-6 hours.  You'll know it's ready to bake when it's increased in size about 50% and it's noticeably springier to the touch.  Preheat the oven to 450°f/230°c with a baking vessel inside or set it up for steaming the bread for the first part of the bake.

Invert the bread so it's seam-side down on a piece of parchment paper.  Place in the baking vessel and score.  Bake at 450°f/230°c for 15 minutes covered or with steam. Uncover the bread (or remove the steam) and bake another 15 minutes uncovered/without steam. If needed, bake another 5 minutes directly on the rack or until the bread makes a hollow sound when tapped with your knuckles.

Let the bread cool on a rack.



Anonymous said…
Question through curiosity please. I’ve noticed some of your recipes have ACV, would this recipe produce different results with the addition of it? How do you know when to add or to omit in a recipe? Looking forward to making this loaf. Starter is ready baking one tomorrow. Thank you for sharing awesome recipes!:)
Gina said…
The small amount of acid from ACV acts as a bread improver. Most sourdough recipes don’t need it because the sourdough itself adds enough acid to improve the dough. I think I have one sourdough recipe that calls for ACV because it’s a mild recipe that doesn’t develop a lot of acid. The ACV is always optional. There’s a small increase in rise with the ACV but the recipes typically still work without it.
Anonymous said…
Thank you. Makes sense
Zahara said…
Would it be possible to use this recipe to make pita bread?
Gina said…
Hi Zahara, that is a good question! I haven’t created a good pita bread recipe yet, so I’m not sure. It sounds great though, let me know if you try it!

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