Monday, 7 March 2011

Sold on socca

I have had a bag of chickpea flour living on my kitchen bench for quite a while now.  The reason the bag was on the kitchen bench rather than in my pantry was because I thought having the bag out would remind me that I wanted to cook something with it.  While it did remind me that I wanted to use it, I would just think 'oh yes, I wanted to make that' and move on.  Today, I opened the bag of chickpea flour and I made it.  I made socca.

I first heard about socca reading pure2raw. One of the first posts I read was the twins' tribute to all their wonderful socca recipes.  I love that the twins use socca as their bread.  I love bread so much but I have been very good lately and limiting my bread intake to occasional slices of yeast-free wholegrain sourdoughs.  I miss bread though.  I miss bread more than I miss cake and cookies.  I work opposite a Subway and the smell coming from that store can very nearly undo me.  This morning D and I visited the Kelvin Grove markets and walked past the stall which makes Turkish bread fresh onsite in a trailer converted into a wood-fired oven.  We have had his bread once before and between the two of us, D and I ate the whole loaf over the rest of the weekend.  It was so hard to keep walking.

Sorry, I lost myself in my love of bread there for a moment.

I loved the fact that socca was crispy on the outside but soft in the middle.  I loved that I happened to have chickpea flour in my pantry!  Unfortunately, as I said, for some reason I never got around to making it.

Until today.  I read the pure2raw twins' primer on socca in great detail.  I even took notes!  In the end I used a combination of the twins' 1:1 recipe (1 cup chickpea flour to 1 cup water) and Mark Bittman's 1:3 recipe.   I didn't really want the centre of my socca to be custardy.  I wanted it to be soft, but not too soft, so I went for a 1:1 ratio and a round cake tin.

The batter was so easy to make.  I suppose that was to be expected where there was only three ingredients, but I was still surprised.  I managed to muddle up even this most simple of recipes though.  This morning we visited Wray Organics and I purchased a few items from their bulk selection.  Two of my purchases were Celtic salt and dessicated coconut.  I added the flour to my bowl and went to my shopping bag to get my salt.  I pulled out what I thought was salt and added 1/2 teaspoon.  It didn't click that I'd actually pulled out the coconut until I went to move it into a container and thought 'wow, this salt pours neatly'.  This was after I'd added the water.

Hmm.  What to do.  I have to say I didn't ponder all that long, I figured since I would be cooking the socca in coconut oil, what harm could half a teaspoon of coconut in the batter do?  I fished the actual salt out of my shopping bag, added the required half a teaspoon and carried on.

There are many different ways to cook socca and the twins have a good rundown in their primer linked above.  I wanted to do the traditional oven method to start.  After preheating the oven, the oil is added to the pan and placed in the oven to heat the oil.  It doesn't have to get boiling hot, just enough to generate a smell.  After that, the socca batter is added to the tray and baked.

Mark Bittman's recipe suggests adding some sliced onion and rosemary to the pan with the oil.  I was planning on having the socca for lunch, so I thought the savoury flavours of the onion and rosemary would be quite nice.  I then discovered that I'd run out of rosemary, so I subbed some dried oregano.  Mark also recommends that the batter be left to sit to improve the consistency and flavour.  I made the batter first before I preheated the oven so my batter sat for 15-20 minutes (our oven is terrible) and I was very happy with both the consistency and flavour.

The socca smelled incredible while baking.  It was a good as the smell of baking bread.  It was so hard waiting for the 30 minutes cooking time!

Once the socca came out of the oven (the non-stick cake pan made getting the socca out so much easier) I couldn't wait anymore.  I had to try a slice while I was plating the others for the photo.  It was incredible.  So very tasty and savoury.  The texture was really wonderful, like a soft pizza base but not chewy and dense.  I sprinkled some black pepper over the top after the socca came out of the oven, mainly because Wikipedia said to.  I liked the addition of the pepper and I will add it to the batter next time.

I can't believe that all the time the chickpea flour was sitting on my bench I could have been enjoying fabulous socca.  I've learned my lesson, don't procrastinate!  Now to try all the different socca versions out there on the blogosphere, starting with the rest of the pure2raw twins' repertoire.  Maybe chocolate dessert socca or carrot cake socca?

Thanks Lori and Michelle!

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