Teff Injera (sour flat bread)

I'm working on a project to produce and distribute 100% pure teff injera (the flat bread in Ethiopian cuisine) in the San Francisco Bay Area. The small start-up venture has started supplying pure teff injera (also gluten-free) on a very limited basis to a couple of small neighborhood stores in San Jose (test marketing). Initial reaction is very encouraging. But we are still struggling with predictability on the operations side. We really don't know the scientific variables that govern optimal state of batter readiness. The behavior of the batter during environmental changes (like temperature) has made it impossible to plan production schedules with any degree of certainty.

The injera making process starts out with a wild yeast based starter, further proofing of the dough, and final tampering of the batter. This process takes a few days (depending on environmental factors) and strictly follows the age old process. I have some idea that temperature and humidity are two critical factors (I have also heard of batter weight and acidity - as proxy indicators of batter readiness).

To net this out, I need some expert help/guidance to put the necessary baking science into this end-to-end process for pure teff injera production.

Thanks.

6 comments

 There are a couple of ways I would go about the problem. Neither of these solutions are particularly for batter breads but can be applied to your situation.

The first thing I would do is standardise production technique. The tyre manufacturer Pirelli has a slogan, "power is nothing without control" That's how it is with yeasts as well.  Give them a controlled place to live and they will power along. I would suggest that you need to have a more or less climate controlled production line. Just like you would always mix the batter to the same amounts of flour and water the way the batter is treated needs to be the same every time as well.  

 

in contrast to this mechanical suggestion the other thing I would do would be to find a older member of the Ethiopian community to help you. I have benefited from finding Chinese "Aunts" to help with making and understanding steamed breads, Greek Nanas for some of their festive breads and A friend has gained an understanding of classic Italian breads and wood fired ovens by marrying into an Italian family. It might take a bit of effort to find the right person in the community to help but someone out there has the wisdom in their hands to make large amounts of this bread while living in a village. 

I believe that by combining standardised production with folk knowlege sourced from the community you can develop a consistent production cycle.

Regards,

Chow

PS. A cheap and dodgy proofing box can be made out of a blow heater, evaporative room cooler and something like this: 

cgi.ebay.com.au/Mini-Digital-Temperature-Controller-Thermostat-Aquarium-/270642746398

Chow

Thanks for all the good advice, Chow. I have arranged for a visit to the San Francisco Baking Institute to follow up on this.

Sounds like a good plan. I'd be inteerested to know the outcome of the trip. The bread you are talking about making is a long way away from what is normally associated with San Francisco Sourdough. I hope they can help you.

 Hi there,

My boyfriend can't eat gluten, but we love ethiopian food. Unfortunately, our favorite restaurant (Zeni) uses wheat flour in theirs. What markets in San Jose are you selling the gluten free injera? Or do you happen to know of any restaurants that make 100% teff injera?

thanks!

Hi, I understand your situation very well. I feel we have just started change this somewhat slowly. We also need consumers like u to push the restaurant owners to provide the pure teff injera option. Even without getting into the gluten issue, one can't really have a complete ET food experience without pure teff injera. I even know a story of a small group of ET professionals who get together for dinner at Zeni's once a week (I think on Wednesdays), have now started taking our teff injera with them to the restaurant :-) Any event, we now have two locations in San Jose, where we supply them with fresh baked pure teff injera 2-3 times per week. Each injera is 15" wide and come in 4 or 8 packs at $1.25 per injera. Last week, we also started supplying the same pure teff injera to a store in Oakland (U&I liquor on 4875 Telegraph Ave.) every Thursday to start testing expansion plans to the north bay.

The two stores in San jose where u can buy pure teff injera are:

1) Middle East Foods at 26 Washington Street in Santa Clara - very close to 880 and their phone # is 408-248-5112

2) Selam Market at 2294 South Bascom Avenue in Campbell and their phone # is 408-377-3090

In both cases, I suggest a call ahead before going there to make sure that they are not sold out - just in case.

The injera is guaranteed gluten-free and I'm sure your family will love it. Please let me know if u have any more questions.

Sincerely,

Menkir.

 

 

 Thanks! I'll definitely check out those places. Zeni's doesn't get angry when you bring your own injera? We love the food there, and are sad that they use wheat flour. It's tempting... we've even joked about me hiding it in my purse so he can eat it.

Thanks again! And, good luck with your business venture!

-lauren