With a texture somewhere between a pancake and baked polenta and the look of a modest pizza, this understated snack is a sustaining warm treat to have with “Covid restriction easing” drinks outside on a chilly Spring evening.
You might be surprised, amazed even, to find that a few simple ingredients, mixed together to form a runny mixture, can be baked into such a classy, hot snack. This Italian street food traditionally uses chickpea flour (sometimes called gram flour) but the recipe works exceptionally well with fava bean flour or marrowfat pea flour. The flour is key, so aim for the best you can find. Chickpea or gram flour is widely available, the others can be found at www.hodmedods.co.uk . The size of the baking tin is also important – see below.
You need to start this recipe the day before you want to eat it as the flour has to soak in the water for 24 hours.
You will also need a rectangular baking tray measuring 32cm x 23cm or a 35cm diameter circular baking tray. Whichever tray you use also needs to be at least 3cm deep since the uncooked Farinata mixture is very runny and will easily spill out if the tin is not deep enough.
Makes about 24 squares or wedges
250g chickpea, fava bean or marrowfat pea flour
750mls cold water
1 tsp sea salt flakes
75mls extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh rosemary needles
A pinch or two more of sea salt flakes and some black pepper
Put the flour in a large bowl and use a hand whisk or fork to gradually mix in the water making sure there are absolutely no lumps. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave for approximately 24 hours.
After the soaking time preheat the oven to 200c and lightly oil the baking tray.
Skim off and discard any scum that may have formed on the top of the flour and water mixture. Stir in 1 tsp of sea salt flakes and the extra virgin olive oil and mix well being sure to scrape up any flour that has settled on the bottom of the bowl. Pour the batter into the baking tray, scatter the rosemary needles on top and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes before checking it by inserting a sharp knife into the centre. It should be the texture of an omelette. It will probably need another 5 or even 10 minutes
When it’s done, sprinkle it with the extra sea salt flakes before cutting it into small squares or thin wedges.
If you like, you could serve it with a bowl or two of button mushrooms fried with garlic, thyme and a splash of sherry or sherry vinegar; and a plate of some good British charcuterie such as from www.marshpig.co.uk ; and/or some thin slices of Old Winchester or other British cheese, and you can have yourselves a mini banquet.