My grandmother cooked cornbread for lunch and dinner for as long as I can remember. Not the cakey type from the recipe on the cornmeal box, but a pancake version made simply of cornmeal, water, and salt. It seemed terribly old fashioned to me and I chose Wonder Bread instead.
Now my daughter has introduced me to another simple, unleavened, flatbread. Only this time, it’s called Socca. Like my grandmother’s skillet bread, it’s quick, easy and satisfying.
In addition, Socca, which is made of chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper, is gluten-free. The rustic bread is a street food in southern, France, especially around Nice, where it’s called Socca; in northern Italy it’s referred to as Farinata; and in India, Besan Dosa.
The only ingredient you’re unlikely to have on hand is the chickpea flour, which is made by Bob’s Red Mill and can also be found in international food stores sold as besan flour or powder. Socca is usually sliced and eaten with olive oil, salt and pepper. Some add rosemary, buttermilk, onions or cumin to the batter.
Purist stick with the basic formula, but insist that a wood-burning stove and copper pan be used. NY Times food writer, Mark Bittman, ignores the Socca snobs in his take on the ancient bread. He calls the bread “foolproof” and “irresistible.” His recipes includes some delightful cooking instructions along with an onion and rosemary option..
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 4 Tbs. olive oil, and more if need
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced, loosely packed (optional)
- 1 Tbs. fresh rosemary (optional)
Sift the chickpea flour into your bowl, so it doesn’t lump, and use a whisk to combine it with water. Do not skimp on black pepper or olive oil. Cover the batter with a cloth and let it rest on the counter for an hour or so.
Preheat a 9-10″ skillet or pan in the oven. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Then oil top slightly and stick under broiler until there’s some brown spottiness on top.
Here’s what my first attempt looked like. Next time I’ll use a large skillet rather than a 9″ pie pan, so it will be a bit thinner, though it was quite tasty this way.
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