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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Teff & Sweet Potato Donuts

I think my new favorite ingredient is teff. I hadn't worked with it much, but recently I have been using it to convert some recipes, and I really like the texture and molasses undertones it lends to recipes. Some people consider it sour and it has a strong taste, so I tend to use it as a one-fourth of the flour volume or less. It creates a beautiful dark brown color, and retains moisture really well if you combine things properly. Like most gluten free banana breads, it seemed to settle down and hold much better as day old, although it was delicious as a melty crumble the day of.

Chocolate Banana Tease Bread - note the rich color

Like quinoa, teff has all 8 of the essential amino acids, which would be considered a complete protein. It is very high in fiber, iron, and calcium. It was almost exclusively grown in Ethiopia, but it is catching on in popularity. There is a farm that grows quite a bit in Idaho, so it's fairly easy to find in the Seattle area.

Teff is considered a gluten free grain, but it does contain a form of gluten. It just doesn't have the chain considered to activate celiac/gluten intolerance in people. Both my husband and I seem to do fairly well with it. If it does have gluten, it's not enough. I tried to make a soda bread with it recently, and it was not pliable at all and turned into a powdered mess. Trial and error seems to be my cooking method of choice, and not everything is a home run.

Yesterday, my mom and grandparents came over for a nice big dinner. I have been sick lately and was getting cabin fever, so I was glad they all came over. We had plenty of vegan sides to go with their meat (I stuck to the sides). I had my pea salad with macadamia dressing, lightly blanched broccoli, sweet potatoes, and a nice vegan pumpkin pie with coconut ice cream. It was a very filling dinner. Surprisingly, I actually showed some restraint this time and didn't cook enough for an army, so leftovers were limited. I had about a cup and a quarter of sweet potatoes left over and wasn't sure what to do with them. I've made sweet potato pancakes that are always a hit, but I wanted something different. I settled on pan fried doughnuts. It sounds very unhealthy, but we rarely have anything fried.

Sweet Potato Donuts

1/2 cup teff flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 1/4 cup sweet potato (cooked and mashed)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
4 Tb melted palm oil (Spectrum Shortening is the brand I used)
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vinegar

powdered sugar (corn starch free)
granulated sugar and cinnamon

Combine all of the dry ingredients thoroughly with a whisk. Mash in the sweet potatoes with a fork or pastry cutter until it resembles pie dough (pea sized clumps). Melt the palm oil and combine that with the water and vinegar and then combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.

My sweet potatoes were fresh out of the fridge, so it helped temper the palm oil. If everything you start with is at room temperature or warmer and the dough is hard to work with, stick it in the fridge for 30 minutes. You should be able to form a snake or length of dough with your hands really easily. Connect the ends of the dough to form a doughnut shape. I made mine really small because I was pan frying them instead of deep frying. I used peanut oil, but you can use whatever high temperature oil works best for you. Vegetable oil is usually soy and corn, and I am terribly allergic. If you are deep frying them, watch for them to get a nice dark golden color. If you are pan frying, just cook them a few minutes on each side, and be careful to only flip them once. You should notice the side start to turn a golden color before flipping them.

Once they were done cooking, I put them on a drying rack over a sheet pan with raised sides so the oil would drain off. If you put them on paper towels, you will end up with a mess. I didn't have much oil, so I flattened the rest of the batter and made naan bread for my dinner tonight (yum!). This is a versatile recipe, and I may find other uses or variations down the road.

I put 1/4 cup of turbinado sugar in the Vitamix blender and let it whir and ended up with some nice powdered sugar. I strained that over the top with a fine sieve. You could also roll them in granulated sugar with cinnamon while they are fresh out of the pan, but I prefer them with very little sugar for a hint of sweetness.


  1. These were really excellent doughnuts. I really like the use of the teff. I'm always looking for baked good recipes that use it. I found it much easier to roll out the doughnuts when the dough was cold. Also, I made a glaze with 3/4 cup honey, 6T orange juice, 1t cinnamon, and zest of one orange. Bring to a boil, let cool a little, and dip all of the doughnuts in it. Mmmm. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  2. Fantastic! I'm glad you liked them. That glaze sounds and cinnamon is one of my favorite combos in anything resembling a caramel. Thanks for sharing the glaze recipe!