I have been wanting to make socca, that French flatbread made with chickpea flour, since very first hearing about it. The problem is that my husband has banned me from buying new flours until I get my current stash down to a reasonable size. Which is how I found myself eying the cornmeal.
I also might never have thought of trying socca with cornmeal if I hadn't made those cornmeal pancakes from Mark Bittman. They emerged from the pan perfectly crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle - just like Faith's description of socca!
I followed David Lebovitz' recipe for socca from his website (link below), but subbed in cornmeal and nixed the cumin. The consistency was a cross between thick pancake batter and heavy cream. I pre-heated my cast iron skillet under the broiler, poured in the batter, and returned it to the broiler.
After about 12 minutes, the top of the flatbread was dry and the edges were starting to turn brown. I was ready to eat it then and there, but I noticed that the bottom was still a little wet when I gave it a peak. So I flipped it over (it held together very well!) and gave the underside a few minutes under the broiler.
This cornmeal socca didn't get as golden as the chickpea socca, but it was definitely tasty! Crispy and crunchy with just a slight bit of chew in the very middle. The corn flavor was fairly pronounced and the olive oil in the batter made every bite taste extra rich.
I thought the texture was a bit grainy for my taste, owing to the fact that cornmeal is less finely ground than chickpea flour. I might try letting the batter sit for longer next time to give the cornmeal more time to absorb the water.
On the whole, an excellent experiment! I would definitely serve this to guests at a dinner party. The flatbread is also stiff and sturdy enough that you could pile it with toppings or even use it as a gluten-free pizza crust.
Have any of you experimented with making socca using other kinds of flour?
• Get the Recipe: Socca from David Lebovitz
(Images: Emma Christensen)