Saturday, April 9, 2011

Italian Flatbread: La Cecina, French Street Bread: Socca - Simple Saturday

This Simple Saturday flat bread is called La Cecina or Farinata in Italy, Socca in France and the same basic bread is eaten in hundreds of places around the world. I've tried it in France, Italy and Barcelona - different names, same basic ingredients. I can't imagine a homemade flat bread easier than this.

La Cecina or Socca
or Farinata Flat Bread

Not only is it toasty, earthy, and filling - it's naturally gluten free, high in minerals and fiber and can be eaten alone or made into a pizza, sandwich or crepe. It can be chewy and soft, thin or thick, dense or a crispy cracker. No wonder it has been embraced and renamed to represent so many peoples.

There seems to be two ways to see our world: how much we are alike, or how much we differ. I see us as the perfect feast. We include varied courses, some of us are challenging to the taste buds, others make us feel cozy like home, and some of us are better digested with a good wine.There are songs written about "love" being
all we need, there are a thousand commercials showing how much families are alike, there are science books listing how we all need water, food and light. And, if you've ever seen a group of young children together you know neither language or politics come before chasing, playing and laughing together. Often, food is the great emulsifier that brings us all together, even when we would normally be like oil and water.

The flour used for this easy flat bread is called Garbanzo Flour or Chickpea Flour and is made from the beans (if you've never bought any flour other than All Purpose or Self-Rising - here is a no risk, easy way to venture out just a bit.) So many grocery stores in the United States now carry more varieties of flours, don't be afraid to ask for this, or give a look in the specialty area of the baking aisle. Bob's Red Mill is a well known and widely carried brand. After you use some of the Garbanzo/Chickpea Flour, roll up the bag and store in the freezer; it will last for months that way.

RECIPE: La Cecina or Socca or Farinata or Flatbread

1 cup Garbanzo Flour/Chickpea Flour
3/4 - 1 cup of water
2 Tbls. Olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
**Optional (used in the bread pictured): 1 Tsp. minced Jalapeno, 1 Tbls. minced shallot, Pinch of dried thyme, pinch of minced fresh parsley

1) In a bowl, pour in the flour and add a little of the water. Whisk to make a paste, then add the rest of the water and whisk to incorporate and work out lumps.
2) Add the rest of the ingredients (you may also cook the pepper and onions first to give them a roasted flavor, then add them.) Let this sit for 30 mins to several hours to soak and bloom.

3) Drizzle just a covering of Olive Oil into a flat bottom skillet (cast iron works great) and heat over Med/High heat on the stove top.
4) Pour the batter into the skillet and allow to cook until the bottom is set. Then move the pan into a preheated oven on 375F, continue to cook for about 10-15 minutes or browned to your taste.
5) Remove and slide flat bread onto a towel or board. Cut into triangles (a pizza cutter works great), and serve. This is a perfect pairing with spreads, sauces, dips, eggs, salad or plain snacking.On the streets of France, Socca is poured out very thin onto a giant cast iron pan and cooked at a high heat to be served up more like grilled crispy crackers. Try it thin and thick to discover which way you prefer this global flat bread. I'd love to hear about other foods you have discovered that are basically the same around the world.

1 comment:

Cucee Sprouts said...

Isn't it the most delicious bread ever? And sooooo easy to make! Here is my variation (with pictures)