I've had a weird craving for things round, flat and crispy lately. First there was a 2-day adventure with chickpea flour - which I had bought weeks ago, on my quest for new and intersting grains and flours. Googling taught me that there aren't really that many things you can do with chickpea flour. Panisses (chickpea flour french fries, who could resist?) have to wait for another day, I started with something I had actually already eaten once, when someone made it for me in my own kitchen: Socca.
Most recipes drifting around on the web are pretty similar, although the pictures you can find can be surprisingly different - from thick, almost cake like socca to very thin, crisp pancakes.
On my first attempt, my socca came out more on the thick and cakey side, and while I enjoyed the flavor I thought I would prefer it to be crispier. So the next day for lunch I mixed up some batter. I added some ground cumin, per the advice of David Lebovitz. After experimenting with baking the thing in the oven, on the stove and under the grill, I ended up combining 2 methods: I heated a cast iron pan on the stove until it was really hot, cooked the socca in it for a minuten or so, and then finished it under a hot grill in the oven. This produced the socca I liked best: thin, brown and crispy.
The addition of cumin is genius, it gives the pancake a nice toasty and spicy fragrance that's hard to pin down but that's really well suited to the subtle chickpea flavor.
The socca recipe itself is really simple: a cup of chickpea flour, slightly more than a cup of cold water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a good pinch of salt, a small pinch of ground cumin, a really good grinding of black pepper. Fresh herbs are optional, as is the dusting of ground Parmigiano on the finished pancake. I did enjoy some crunchy fleur de sel and an extra drizzle of oil on mine.
More experiments with flat, round and crispy: I made this delayed fermentation pizza dough for the first time and really liked it. I made it on Monday, and baked pizzas with it on Wednesday and Thursday. I have to say the Thursday version was the best and the most flavorful. I do think the recipe needs a bit more salt though.
I did not really succeed in 'stretching' the dough on my knuckles, I could not get it uniformally thin enough so I went back to the trusted old rolling pin method which works just fine for me.
It was a great pizza, with beef mixed with fresh thyme and garlic, grilled eggplant, caramellized red onions and buffalo mozzarella.
Now, I have to go and pack my bag for Paris. 3 days of pastries, wine and girl-talk as I head to the Beautiful City with one of my best friends. See you all in a couple of days, au revoir!
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