Also known as farinata, torta di ceci or cecina, socca is basically an unleavened chickpea flour pancake. It's naturally gluten-free and super easy to make, though it's best if you can mix up the batter at least an hour or two ahead of baking to allow it to rest. If you're wondering why it needs to rest since there's no gluten to relax or yeast to proof, it's a matter of hydration. Resting the batter gives the chickpea flour a chance to really absorb the water and oil, resulting in a creamier, more cohesive batter (and a perfectly soft & chewy center when baked).
Thickness is a matter of preference - some people like their socca very thin like a crepe, but I prefer mine a bit thicker because it allows for a textural contrast between the tender center and slightly crispy surface, so I call for the entire batch of batter to be cooked as one cake. If you're partial to a thin, cracker-like socca, you can divide the batter into 2 or 3 portions and cook them separately, just be sure to cut back on the cooking time.
Socca is traditionally baked in a wood-burning oven, but you can achieve terrific results with a standard home oven as long as it has a broil function. I cook mine in a cast iron skillet, but a round metal or ceramic pie pan will work just fine. (Please don't use a glass pan - it can shatter at such a high temperature.)
I like to serve this socca as the centerpiece of an appetizer board with an assortment of cheeses or dips and spreads for topping. It's also a wonderful accompaniment to shakshuka - use it to soak up all that delicious tomato sauce.
Feel free to get creative with your add-ins. Here I've got minced garlic, thyme, rosemary and parsley, but you can use whatever flavors you'd like. In the past I've used chopped sun dried tomatoes, olives, and even chopped roasted vegetables.
This is what the batter looks like once you've mixed everything in - it's very runny and smooth with tiny air bubbles from whisking. At this point it should rest for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
And here's what it should look like fresh out of the oven. Deep and toasty golden, with areas of char or blistering. Go ahead and dig in, but watch yourself on that scorching hot pan!
- 120 grams (1 cup) chickpea flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Pinch of cayenne
- 250 ml (1 cup) warm water (85-100°F)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs of choice (thyme, basil, rosemary, sage, parsley)
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- Prepare batter: In a medium bowl whisk together chickpea flour, salt and spices. Drizzle in warm water and 2 tablespoons olive oil, and whisk until smooth. Add fresh herbs and garlic and mix to incorporate evenly.
- Rest batter: Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel, plastic wrap or a lid, and let batter rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer (up to 2 hours).
- Preheat: Grease a 9-inch skillet or pie pan with remaining olive oil. Put empty pan in oven, set temperature to 450°F, and allow oven and pan to preheat until very hot.
- Cook: CAREFULLY remove skillet/pan from oven, pour batter into pan and return to *top rack* of oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are set and begin to pull away from the sides and the top feels firm. Turn on the broiler (if yours has different settings select "high") and broil the socca just long enough for the top to blister or char and develop some cracks, 2-3 minutes. Please use extreme caution when removing the pan from the oven, particularly if you used a skillet - the handle will be insanely hot.
- Serve: Cut into wedges, and enjoy as a stand-alone snack or adorned with your favorite toppings.