I haven’t been to the French Riviera (mais je veux!), but I have heard so many people rave about socca, I had to try it. My pantry is full of alternative flours right now because everyone else is making sourdough! I have rice flour, sticky rice flour, oat flour, almond flour, millet flour, and my latest purchase, chickpea flour. (And I don’t even bake much these days.)
Socca is a very simple and very satisfying flatbread or savory pancake made of chickpea flour, water, and olive oil, and is also known as farinata in Italy. As for its origins, legend has it that the Roman forces once stationed in the area that is now modern-day Nice would light a fire under their shields and use them as griddles to fry their hasty mix of chickpea flour and water. Whatever its origins, socca is popular in cafes in Nice, cut into wedges served in stacks as a snack to go with a chilled glass of rose. Even now, it is baked on a large copper pan in a wood-fired oven, and transported in the streets of Nice, while still piping hot, by bicycle.
Socca (Chickpea Flatbread)
Makes: 1 large flatbread, to cut into 8-12 wedges
1 cup chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup lukewarm water
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Put a well-seasoned 12″ cast-iron skillet in the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 450.
- Put the chickpea flour in a small mixing bowl along with the salt and pepper. Slowly add the water, whisking to to make a smooth batter. Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover and let sit while the oven heats, at least twenty minutes. The batter will thicken as the flour hydrates.
- Remove the preheated pan from the oven and swirl in the other 2 tablespoons of oil, then immediately pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pancake is firm and slightly golden on top, and the edges set.
Cut it into wedges, and serve hot or warm.
While traditionally socca is served plain, a lot of people outside of France use it like you might a pizza crust, and top it with vegetables like mushrooms, onions, and others.
You can also add herbs or spices, such as rosemary or cumin, to the batter.
Because chickpea flour is made of ground dry chickpeas, it is gluten-free and high in fiber and protein, and lower in carbohydrates than grain flours. You’ll find it very filling compared to grain-based flatbreads.