Sunday, October 08, 2006

The joy of the socca

Oh, the joy of the socca! Much as I love coming up with creative gluten-free substitutions for gluten-containing foods... There's always a certain pleasure discovering foods that were meant to be gluten-free, that were originally designed around non-gluten ingredients. Such is the case of the socca, a savory pizza-like flatbread from Southeastern France. This Provencal pancake is made from garbanzo bean flour and is so easy to make. It can be eaten alone or topped with any number of ingredients. Serve soccas with any kind of savory topping you like - Try them with tapenade, ratatouille, or sauteed vegetables and herbs.

I figured it was time to make my own, so I did. It was remarkably simple and required very few ingredients. It started out looking like this:

A plain socca = a blank palette!

The finished product.

I couldn't wait to eat it up so I cut it in quarters with a pizza cutter.

As you can see I topped this baby with home-made hummus, kalamata olives and heirloom tomatoes and parsley from my garden. Eventually I hope to attempt to try variations with fish and tapenade. A sauteed vegetable topping is also in order. Try this recipe with similar toppings, and then riff of it to create your own variations.

Socca [Provencal Savory Chickpea Pancake]

Adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman of the New York Times.

1 cup chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup warm water
3 tabelspoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves

  1. Place heavy (preferably cast-iron) skillet in oven and preheat to 450 F.
  2. In a large bowl, sift chickpea flour, pepper and salt together. After sifting, add rosemary leaves if desired.
  3. Whisk in warm water and 2 tbsp olive oil.
  4. Cover the bowl and allow the batter set for at least 30 minutes, add sliced onion to the batter, which should have the consistency of thick cream.
  5. Remove skillet from oven. Add 1/2 tbsp olive oil to the hot pan, pour batter into pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the pancake is firm and the edges are set.
  6. Set socca a few inches below your broiler for a few minutes, just long enough to brown it in spots. Cut into wedges and serve hot, with toppings of your choice.


Anonymous said...

What's the texture of the dough (once cooked) like? Is it crumbly? Is it stiff? And what's the taste like? This is _seriously_ intriguing.

ByTheBay said...

It's hard to explain since I'm not an experienced foodie. It is stiffer than a breakfast pancake but not as firm as a pizza crust. The outside is a little crisp but the inside is relatively soft. The pieces are firm enough to be picked up and eaten like a piece of pizza, but the inside of the pancake stays a bit softer... Because of no gluten, no xanthan gum and no egg (i.e. no binders) it crumbles pretty easily. The taste is slightly nutty, slightly garbanzo-y (?!). You can taste the olive oil and the rosemary, too. Try it some time.. It's very quick and easy and mmm mmm good.

Unknown said...

Hey, if you like Indian food, you might want to try making pudla. They are pancakes made with chickpea flour. If you google, there are various recipes; here's one. I put tomatoes and green chiles in mine.

ByTheBay said...

Heather, thank you! How exciting... I will definitely give them a shot. Have you tried dosas?

ByTheBay said...

Oh wait, apparently pudla are a kind of dosa. The dosas I've had were made with lentil flour.

Unknown said...

Yeah, I love dosai. Hmm, if dosa is generic for pancake then I guess I could see pudla as a kind of dosa, but when I make pudla, they come out more American-pancake-like in texture and thickness, and dosas are really thin and crispy.

Dosai are made with a fermented lentil/rice batter, usually. Pudla are much easier, you can whip em up pretty fast.

Kalyn Denny said...

Oh my. I must taste this. OK, my stepsister lives right by Berkley!

ByTheBay said...

Kalyn - Let me know what you think if you try it out. I love love love soccas! This is an old entry (October) and Socca Oven has since closed, sadly. But I've been making them at home and they're so versatile and easy.

Janet03 said...

They are also known as "farinata". Bittman says to eat hot, or at least warm, with no additional topping. So easy and delicious!

Anonymous said...

I just found out I'm allergic to wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, corn, tomatoes, and peanuts, so I am loving some of the offerings on your blog! My husband and I eat vegetarian normally, and I'm trying to see how it's going to go if we continue that with no soy or dairy products available to us. (And now I have to get tested for tree nuts and other things as well.)

Anyway, thanks for the recipes!

Laura said...

Where can we try authentic socca (like how it is prepared in Nice) in the US?

ByTheBay said...

Laura, I've heard this is pretty close to the authentic recipe. It's close to how the only Socca restaurant I've been to (and the only one I've heard to in the US) made theirs, except I think they didn't include onions or rosemary in theirs. I don't know of any restaurants that serve soccas but if you Google for "socca" I'm sure you can find other variations and maybe even restaurants that have it on their menu. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I just had socca for the first time last night at a new little restaurant in Eugene, Oregon, called Ratatouille.
It was great! They served it with a tomato lavender sauce, unique and delicious!
Then I googled “socca” and found your post and recipe. Thanks loads.

helphand said...

Totally delicious. I made this with BRM all-purpose GF blend, which I bought before finding out that bean flours are generally disdained for baked goods. It turned out great, topped with roasted vegetables (from the superhot oven) and a tiny sprinkle of goat cheese.

ByTheBay said...

Benjamin - How do you make a socca with all-purpose flour? Soccas are by definition made with 100% chickpea flour. Was it more like a pancake? Bean flours aren't great for sweet baked goods but garbanzo flour is amazing for savory goods, like these savory pancakes, or the batter that pakoras (indian fritters) are dipped in. Glad you enjoyed these! Soccas are one of my faves.

kamknauss said...

I love socca! I had it at a french restaurant in Omaha. It was crispy and topped with an alternating layer of fresh mozzerella and tomato and basil down the center and drizzled liberally with olive oil and sea salt. When the tomatoes are fresh in the summer, I make a big batch of batter and eat this every day. I think you could use it in place of a crepe and fill with any number of delicious savory fillings.

Unknown said...

On Book of Yum (how I found your blog btw) she speaks of your soccas with your hummus topping it ... could you direct me to your hummus topping that you use on your soccas? Thanks so much! I too love hummus and cannot wait to make your recipe(s) for it as well as your recipe for soccas!! Thanks!

Allyson said...

this was great! thanks for the inspiration to do this at home, i had no idea it was so easy.
i first had a socca right here in new york city at a restaurant called nizza (i think it's at 45th and 9th ave) that has a lot of gluten free options. personally, i think mine was better...