The Musette: Farinata

Farinata , socca , torta di ceci or cecina are all names for thin, unleavened pancakes made from chickpea flour which originated in Genoa but are popular from Nice around the Ligurian Sea to the isle of Elba. Farinata is made by stirring chickpea (garbanzo) flour  into a mixture of water and olive oil to form a loose batter. Typically seasoned with fresh rosemary, pepper and sea salt, it’s usually sold in pizzerias, bakeries and on market stalls.

The best example I’ve ever tasted was made by an Italian friend who also makes divine focaccia. One of these days I’ll get her to show me how she makes them. Meanwhile, here’s my version:-

Ingredients (serves 6 hungry cyclists as a starter or snack)

  • 300 g (3 cups) chickpea flour, sifted
  • 1 ltr (4 cups) filtered water
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying

Method

1. Put a litre of filtered water, two teaspoons of sea salt and the sifted chickpea flour into a bowl with 30 ml olive oil and stir with a whisk to form a thick batter. Let the mixture stand at room temperature in a warmish place for at least 4-5 hours or, better still, overnight. (This will allow the mixture to start fermenting, which gives the pancake its light, airy texture).

2. Preheat the oven to 220ºC(425ºF)/200ºC Fan(400ºF)/gas mark 7. Heat a large, heavy ovenproof frying-pan (skillet) or tray on the stove until it is almost smoking. Cover the bottom generously with olive oil and pour in the mixture. It should be no more than two thirds of a centimetre thick, turn the tray or pan as you pour to ensure it coats the bottom evenly.

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3. The mixture will begin to bubble. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes until the farinata has set and the edges are crispy. Cut into slices, remove from the pan and repeat with the rest of the mixture. Serve warm, either on its own or with antipasti. I had it for breakfast with avocado and tomatoes. It made a lovely change from smashed avo on toast.

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