Chickpea flour is used all over the world to make thin flatbread crepes, pancakes, or crackers. Depending on where they're made, they can be called Pappadum (India), Farinata (Italy) or Socca (France). Farinata and Socca may or may not be the same, depending on which expert you ask, but they're definitely similar. When I found some chickpea flour at a middle eastern market in L.A., I experimented with Farinata, producing something that tasted great but seemed too thick and looked different than other versions of Farinata I saw around the web. At the time I had some e-mail discussion with David Lebovitz, who had loved the Socca he found in France and had been experimenting with making Socca. He told me there can be quite a lot of variation in different types of chickpea flour, which only made me more determined to try it again.
Fast forward to the release of David's new book The Sweet Life in Paris, and the perfected Socca recipe on his blog, which rekindled my desire to try making it. I was also lucky enough to happen upon a great little cast iron griddle, small enough to fit under the broiler, so a few days ago I gave it a try.
If only I knew how to say it was fantastic in French (or Italian), I could properly express how much I liked this. Definitely thinner and less crispy than my previous Farinata experiment, and perfectly delightful eaten hot from the griddle, with a bit of olive oil drizzled on and some salt and fresh ground black pepper. And did I mention that this low-glycemic treat is not only South Beach Diet friendly, but also gluten free and loaded with nutrients?
I found this brand of garbanzo or chickpea flour at Whole Foods, and it seemed yellower and not as fine as the type I used for my Farinata, so I had hopes it would be more similar to what's used in Europe.
As David recommended, after I mixed the chickpea flour, water, salt, cumin, and olive oil, I let the batter rest for a few hours.
This is my lovely new cast iron griddle, purchased at Smith's Marketplace in Salt Lake City for $12.79. What a bargain, huh? To cook the Socca, you brush the griddle with olive oil, heat it under the broiler, pour on a thin layer of batter, and cook under the broiler.
Maybe I was nervous about burning it, because my first attempt turned out a little pale, although it was quickly devoured with no complaints!
This was my second try, but by the third one I learned that I got best results when I poured the batter straight down in the middle and let it naturally run out to the edges.
By the second one I was leaving them under the broiler until they browned a bit, but were still slightly soft and could easily be folded. I guess I'll have to go to France and Italy and try authentic Farinata and Socca to see how my results would compare, but in the meantime I'll definitely be making them often at home.
(Makes about 3 thin flatbread pancakes, recipe adapted very slightly from The Sweet Life in Paris and Socca Enfin on David's blog.
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup plus 2 T water
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin (David used 1/8 tsp.)
1 1/2 T olive oil (plus more for brushing griddle and drizzling over finished Socca)
Whisk together the chickpea flour, water, cumin, and olive oil. Cover container and let rest for 2-3 hours at room temperature.
When ready to cook Socca, preheat broiler. (I have a gas broiler, so I'm not sure how the results would be different with an electric broiler.) When broiler is hot, brush cast iron griddle or frying pan with olive oil, heat under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, then remove from oven (use a mitt!) and pour on a thin layer of batter.
Cook Socca under the broiler until it has firmed and well-browned, especially on the edges. For me, this took 2-4 minutes under the broiler. Continue to make Socca pancakes like this, brushing the griddle with oil and heating it between each one.
Cut finished Socca into rough triangular pieces, sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Serve hot.
South Beach Suggestions:
More Bloggers Make Farinata or Socca:
Farinata from Kalyn's Kitchen (too crisp, but very tasty!)
Socca Enfin from David Lebovitz
Farinata with Onions, Tomatoes, Olives, and Herbs from Lucullian Delights
Farinata from Over a Tuscan Stove
Farinata al Rosamarina from Lemonpi
Farinata . . . or is it Socca? from Blog From Our Kitchen
Farinata from Tofu for Two
The Joy of the Socca from Gluten Free Bay
Socca a Nice from Chez Pim
The Saga of Skillet Flatbread from Bitten
(Want even more Farinata recipes or Socca recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)