I am always on the lookout for recipes for bread replacements. This is for two main reasons:
- A large proportion of Nutritionhelp clients are following a yeast-free diet as part of their recommendations. Finding a replacement for bread, to use for snacks and packed lunches is a common request.
- Even if you are not needing to avoid yeast, it is frequently helpful to reduce the gluten grains (wheat, rye and barley) which commonly are main ingredients in bread. This may be due to a gluten sensitivity, or that you want to support a reduction of inflammation, or to encourage a healthy weight.
Socca – An Easy-to-Make Flat Bread
So I was delighted to come across Socca. Socca fundamentally has just one ingredient – chick pea flour (Gram flour or Basan). The chick pea flour is mixed with an equal amount of water – that’s it! Adding some coconut oil to the batter keeps it moist, and you can add herbs or spices to taste. This dish is apparently enjoyed around Nice in France, but it originated in Italy, where it is known as Farinata. It is best eaten warm, with the hands, and is a great accompaniment for many dishes. Use it with soups and stews, as a base for pizza, as a wrap for sliced avocado, or eat it just on its own! Because this bread replacement is made with chick pea flour it is a good source of protein, making it ideal for a quick snack lunch. I add some cumin seed and team it up with Middle Eastern foods, such as falafel, warm aubergine dip, hummus and Lebanese cabbage salad (recipe soon to come!).
Traditionally this is made in a hot oven in an iron pan, but any oven-proof dish can be used. I have also successfully cooked it on the stove, similar to cooking a pancake. You can make Socca very thin, or use more batter and create a thicker bread, about 1/2 cm thick. You can find how you like it best.
Which Oil to Use?
Usually the recipe will call for olive oil. However, because a high heat is required, I prefer to use coconut oil. As a saturated fat, this does not become oxidised when heated, making it a good option for this dish. In the winter months it does mean that you will have to melt the coconut oil before adding it to the batter.
Socca Flat Bread
You can easily double up the mixture to make more. The ingredients below work well in a pan about 20cm in diameter.
- 1/2 cup chick pea flour
- 1/2 cup water
- Pinch salt (Himalayan or ‘Lo-Salt’)
- 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil, and more for cooking
- optional – 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seed, or chopped fresh or dried herbs
- Whisk all the flour, salt, water and any herbs you wan to use together. You can use the batter straight away but if possible leave to stand for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. If you have a ‘browning’ option on your oven, this may work well for this dish.
- If you are using whole spices, such as cumin seed, place these in an oven-proof dish in the oven. Allow the pan to heat through thoroughly, and the seeds to begin to toast.
- Once the pan is hot, use oven-gloves to remove it from the oven and add a tablespoon of coconut oil. Tip the pan to coat the bottom with the oil
- Pour in the batter. Return to the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden and set.
- If you haven’t got a browning facility in your oven you may like to pop the pan under the grill for a couple of minutes to gently brown the top.
- Ease the Socca from the pan, pull into pieces and serve.
- Once you are ready to cook the batter, heat a pan on the stove
- When hot, add a tablespoon of coconut oil. Tilt the pan to cover well with the oil
- Pour in the batter. Turn the stove to a medium heat.
- Once the socca is no longer looking wet on the top (about 5 minutes, but may be longer if the bread is thick), carefully use a fish slice to flip it over.
- Cook the underside for another 5 minutes until golden. Cook for longer if you want a crisp finish.