I have a confession to make. I don’t care for most gluten free baked goods. I’ve tried everything from homemade bread to cupcakes from Babycakes in NYC. But I find that there’s a strange flavor that doesn’t work for me. Never mind that it doesn’t seem right to measure starch by the cupful.
Before we changed our diets, I loved baking. Especially making bread to accompany our dinner. I worked my way through The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and was hard pressed to pick a favorite. I looked forward to berry and stone fruit season so we could have shortcake or crumbles. The holidays were a pie-filled delight. So it was difficult to transition away from gluten when we realized it was causing head- and belly-aches in our house. Not finding an alternative flour or baking mix we liked (and discovering raw versions of the crumbles and pies that we liked better anyway), I gave up on baking altogether.
For a while.
Then I discovered almond flour! You can read my previous posts on the new-found joys of gluten-free baking with almond flour (I love almond flour and patriotic shortcake) and I was happy to be able to bake again for my family.
One day, I was searching for a savory baked good to accompany dinner, and stumbled across a recipe for a street treat from the south of France — socca. I don’t have a wood-fired oven or an enormous copper pan to make it in, but I can assure you, it’s delicious even without these nods to authenticity! One word on equipment, however: this recipe calls for a 12-inch pan. The largest I have is a 10-inch stainless stockpot so I use that and cook it a few more minutes in the oven.
The best part — it’s only a few ingredients and you can make the batter ahead of time and let it rest for up to 12 hours, reducing the amount of last-minute prep and clean up.
- 1 cup garbanzo bean flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 4-5 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup water
- spices as desired
- Mix dry ingredients (flour, salt, spices) with a whisk until combined and lumps are history.
- Slowly whisk in a thin, constant stream of water until all the flour is mixed in and you achieve a smooth loose batter (think pancakes). Whisk in 2 Tbs olive oil and set aside for up to 12 hours.
- When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 450F. Once the oven is hot, put 2-3 Tbs olive oil in a pan and place in the oven for 5 minutes.
- Pull the pan out, swirl the olive oil to make sure the pan is evenly coated, pour in the batter and swirl again to cover the bottom of the pan evenly. Pop it back in and cook for 20-25 minutes. If I’m in a hurry, sometimes I pull it at 17 minutes or so and brown it under the broiler for 2-5 minutes, but it will brown in oven if you have the time (<– read this as: if you don’t have hungry children dying for a piece).
- I pull out the pan and sometimes have to use a spatula to release the socca from the bottom, sometimes not. I’ve read that to be uber-traditional, you need to tear it into pieces, but we find that no one argues that someone else had more than them if we hand out knife-cut quarters.
We have made socca a number of times now. I started with this plain version to get to know it, but have since embellished it based on the flavors that will also be on the table. I usually now mince several cloves of garlic and add it to the batter after the oil has been whisked in.
We’ve done a few versions with spices as well — cumin and chili powder was really good (am planning to add lime juice and/or zest next time and possibly cilantro); rosemary and thyme went really well with the nettle soup we were having. We also tried a version with curry, but I didn’t put enough curry in and it was a little too subtle. Need to try that again.
I’d also like to explore this as a base for pizza — bake the socca, put it onto a half sheet, cover it lightly with our favorite pizza toppings, heat it if the ingredients require, and voila — gluten free pizza! Dante usually dips his socca pieces in olive oil or sauce and those are apparently delicious, so I think it would work.
I also think it would make great almost panini-like sandwiches. So many things to try, so few meals!