After lots and lots of testing, I am finally ready to share my recipe for Injera from Sourdough Starter recipe! This recipe has been in the back of my mind for years now, ever since I first started delving into Ethiopian cooking (see my recipes for Shiro Wat and Misir Wat). But, there were many reasons to procrasinate: I never had a sourdough starter handy, the recipes all seem to take so long, and who wants to bother when you can just head down the street to the local Ethiopian market?
Enter one move to the suburbs, one toddler, and one pandemic later, and I became highly motivated to replicate my favorite injera at home to the best of my ability.
So here we have it!
I made my Injera from soughdough starter I had leftover from bread-baking activities during early pandemic life. The concept is super simple, and honestly a lot less fussy than making a beautiful and airy sourdough bread. But it starts in a very familiar way (if you have ever tried to make a sourdough loaf) – start by making a levain.
For anyone unfamiliar with bread-making terms like levain, what I”m referring to is an off-shoot of your original sourdough starter, mixed with whatever flours and water percentages (hydration) the recipe calls for. For injera, the levain is made up of a bit of your original starter, plus some teff flour and water. The hydration of your levain is pretty unimportant, though, as you don’t need to create any significant structure to the dough later on.
The biggest part of making injera is ensuring a good texture and flavor and developing a good number of “eyes” in your bread. Injera “eyes” are essentially the small open holes that develop in your bread as it cooks. You also want to make sure it remains tender and flexible, without cracking. There are a couple tricks to make your injera turn out well, and I’ll list them below.ra is about 3/4 of the way cooked – cover at this stage.
- First – you need to make sure you have a healthy and active sourdough starter. This guarantees you will get an excellent number of eyes in your injera. If you’re new to starters, you may want to purchase one, or see if you can get one from a friend rather than starting from scratch, as it can take a week or more to get your starter really going strong.
- What does it mean to have an active starter? It should be rising and falling predictably, and growing aggressively (doubly or preferably tripling size) when fed. (Note – if you keep your starter in the fridge, make sure to “wake it up” by feeding it consistently for a few days before making this recipe). This basically ensures that your starter will provide enough of a culture to appropriately ferment the batter and create nice air bubbles in your finished product.
- Secondly, technique of pouring your injera matters. I tested a few methods for how to pour the inerja, and I found that the traditional method was best – start with a nice hot pan and drizzle a cup full of batter in a circular pattern, starting at the edges, until you completely fill the skillet. I also tried pouring into the pan and tilting to spread the batter like a crepe, and for whatever reason this caused very few eyes to form.
- Steam helps with texture! To have the best possible texture for the injera, you want to cover it with a lid about 3/4 of the way through the cooking process. The downside to this is that you may have condensation drip onto your bread if you’re not careful, creating gummy spots. Take care to tilt the lid away from the bread as you lift off to prevent this.
- You don’t need baking powder or baking soda! Lot of injera from sourdough starter recipes include this as a way to assist with the development of air bubbles in the dough. However, I found I could taste the baking powder/soda in the recipes that included this, and the “eyes” ended up too open/large for my preference. If your sourdough starter is active enough, you won’t need any more help creating fermentation bubbles.
I also wanted to comment on the flour combinations. I tried a few combos of flours and found that cake flour and barley flours helped to reduce the “gumminess” I was struggling with when I used all purpose flour in other tests. The barley flour also seemed to help the flavor be more similar to the injera from the Ethiopian market I used to visit. Some people recommend using full teff, but I found the flavor wasn’t what I personally was looking for, and it ended up being a bit too crumbly/ dry for me, but everyone has their own preference. Feel free to experiment with it!
Another note on the teff levain – teff doesn’t contain gluten, so the way the levain rises looks slightly different than a normal fully wheat flour levain. I also found that mine sank a lot more rapidly than my normal all purpose flour starter after it peaked. If you miss the rise (i.e. sleeping or otherwise living your life), just look for a ring of residue on your container which will indicate the maximum height of the levain rise. It should approximately double in size (or more) if it is healthy and strong enough to work for this recipe.
Pour from the outside in. Pour until you fill the entire bottom of the pan.
Slightly lengthier and more descriptive post than my usual, but I’m hoping my experiments help other people trying to figure out how to make injera from scratch at home! Take advantage of that sourdough starter in the back of your fridge from early quarantine and get cooking!
Injera from Sourdough Starter
- 12 inch non-stick skillet
For the Teff Sourdough Levain
- 50 grams (Scant 1/4 Cup) All Purpose Flour Active Sourdough Starter (mine is 100% hydration, but shouldn't matter significantly)
- 50 grams (1/3 Cup) Teff Flour
- 50 grams (Scant 1/4 cup) Water
For the Injera Batter
- 150 grams (1 Cup) Teff Flour
- 150 grams (1 Cup) Barley Flour
- 150 grams (1 Cup) Cake Flour
- 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups Warm Water
The Night Before
- In a glass or other non-reactive container, mix together your active sourdough starter with teff flour and additional water. Loosely cover and let rise overnight. By morning the levain should have risen then sunk again - you will see evidence of this on the side of your jar - there will be some levain stuck to the side of the container at the highest point it achieved overnight. This is good/normal.
Morning of the Next Day (9am, or at least 8 hours before planning to serve injera)
- To your blender, add the teff flour, barley flour, cake flour, your levain, and about 2 and 1/2 cups of warm water. Blend well until thoroughly combined and no lumps remain. You may need to scrape down the sides of your blender a few times.
- Add the extra 1/4 cup of water (if needed) to achieve appropriate batter consistency (should be thinner than pancake batter, but not quite as thin as crepe batter).
- Pour into a large non-reactive bowl and loosely cover. Place in a warm environment (such as oven with light turned on or top of the fridge) to ferment for about 8 hours.
To cook the Injera
- After 8 hours your injera batter should show signs of active fermentation - bubbles on the surface of the batter. Stir injera batter and check consistency again. If you need to add a little more water at this stage, feel free.
- Heat a 12 inch non-stick skillet over your stove on high heat. Fill a glass measuring cup with about 3/4 cup of injera batter.
- When pan is very pre-heated, pour your first injera. Start at the edges of the pan and pour the batter in a circular pattern until injera batter fills the entire skillet. It's okay if you miss a few spots, go ahead and drizzle a little extra into the gaps. (See visual above for technique).
- Turn heat down to medium. Wait until the "eyes" of the injera begin to form, and the injera appears about 3/4 of the way cooked. Then cover with a lid and finish cooking. (This gentle steaming helps keep the injera soft and tender).
- Your injera will be done when the edges begin to pull away from the pan. Uncover, using care not to drip water from condensation on the lid onto the injera. Gently remove with a large spatula. Let cool on a kitchen towel.
- Repeat until all the batter is used up.
- Cool all the injera in a single layer on a large kitchen towel (or multiple towels). Do not stack until fully cooled or the injera will stick. Once fully cooled, stack and store in a plastic bag at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Did you make this recipe? Head on over to Instagram and tag me @thegourmetgourmand or share on the hashtag #thegourmetgourmand. Happy cooking!