I think we officially have a pancake problem. I've joked to J that we should start a new blog, featuring every kind of pancakes we can create. Past pancake-related posts include:
The Dutch Baby
Kombucha (Squash) and Parmesan Fritters
Savory Swedish Pancakes
Vegan Banana Pancakes
plus several renditions of pancakes purchased at a variety of restaurants (sweet and savory, both in Philly and elsewhere).
Our newest pancake obsession might be considered a little "out there" but hear us out. It might be one of the simplest recipes we've ever made-- you only need four ingredients, three of which are most definitely in your kitchen right now. The one ingredient you will probably need to seek out: Garbanzo Bean Flour. However, it's pretty easy to find- any Whole Foods carries it, as well as most health food stores. And don't worry, it's super cheap.
Bob's Red Mill, obviously.
Warning-- do NOT taste this flour plain. Or even in the batter I'm about to tell you about. Socca is defined as "a thin, unleavened pancake of chickpea flour" (thanks, Wikipedia) and is a diet staple in the south of France and in some parts of Italy. We learned about it through another set of blogger twins, who even have a "Socca Tribute" section to their extensive blog!
Ready for the recipe?
Socca (makes 3-4 servings)
1.5 cups chickpea/garbanzo bean flour
1.75 cups water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp salt
Mix all four ingredients together, whisking well to minimize clumps. It's that easy! There are a few variations of the recipe-- you can use more or less water depending on how thick you want your batter, and more or less salt according to your personal taste.
There are also a few variations on cooking methods. J first tried this recipe by pouring small batter pools onto a griddle, just as you would cook pancakes made with regular flour. The resulting cakes were thin and flat, and while good, I knew it wasn't the real deal. I was looking for a large, thick, doughy socca with a crispy edge and a custard-like center. For this outcome, I first allowed my batter to set for about an hour and a half at room temperature. This creates a creamier batter.. I'm not sure how.
Heat a large nonstick, ovenproof skillet/pan on medium-high heat for a few minutes, and throw a little oil or butter in for good measure. Once the pan is hot, pour the entire batch of batter in. Set your oven broiler to high while you wait.
Allow to cook for 6-8 minutes, until you can see the edges crisp up and the outer rim begin to set. The middle of the pan will still be VERY wet-- you don't want to overdo it. Since this mega-pancake would be impossible to flip, the top must be finished off under the broiler. My pan has a rubber handle grip, which I covered in aluminum foil, just to be safe. Then, carefully transfer the pan to the oven and position under the broiler. This second cooking step requires a bit of attention- you want the socca to finish cooking without scorching it. Mine remained in the oven for about 5 minutes, with lots of peeks through the window.
When the top is perfectly crispy, remove from the oven, and allow to cool and set for a few minutes before slicing like a pizza. Each slice was perfectly crisp on top and bottom, but still very moist in the middle- surprisingly smooth.
We served our socca with a raw massaged kale salad, similar to the one we recently experienced at Kennett and partially inspired by a recent recipe post by a fellow Philly blogger. The warm, salty socca was a great match to the cold, crunchy greens.
J commented that the flavor of the pancake was almost cheese-like, and considerably different from the flavor of the batter. The oil inside helped provide a buttery texture (probably also helped by the generous butter used to coat the pan). For my first try, it came out exactly as I hoped it would!
I have definite plans to repeat the recipe, and am also interested in switching it up a little- the basic recipe can be altered in countless ways-- add curry powder and finely chopped onions for an Indian-inspired take, or cinnamon and a hint of sugar for a dessert-like socca. It's a perfect food for any purpose-- the leftovers made a great breakfast, it's a super portable snack (no need for refrigeration, at least short-term), and it's both a fantastic source of vegetarian protein and a perfect pancake option for those who go gluten-free.