Chickpea flatbread

Chickpea flatbread

Cecina

By
From
Florentine
Serves
4-6
Photographer
Lauren Bamford

While not originally Florentine, this is a dish that has been happily adopted by a number of Florentine bakeries. Also known as torta di ceci, which literally translates to ‘chickpea cake’, cecina is really somewhere between a flatbread, a thin-crust pizza and a crêpe, with a crisp, flaky top and almost creamy middle. The smooth, very runny batter is poured into a large round pizza pan so that it is only a few millimetres thick and baked in a very hot oven, preferably wood-fired.

It is a beloved street snack of the Tuscan coast, especially in the area of Livorno, where it is eaten hot with a generous grind of black pepper and a slosh of extra-virgin olive oil and often in between two slices of bread as a panino known as cinque e cinque. It’s also nice as a starter embellished with some freshly sliced prosciutto or with some garlicky, grilled eggplant slices. It is similar to the farinata of the neighbouring coastal region of Liguria, which is sometimes topped with rosemary or freshly sliced seasonal vegetables such as artichokes; or socca from Nice on the French Riviera. Clearly this dish was passed on from port to port and developed its own identity in each place.

You can cook this in any shape or size pizza or baking tray so long as the batter remains no higher than 3 mm. I recommend a heavy tray or pan as thin ones might buckle in the heat, leading to an uneven cecina.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
200g fine besan, (chickpea flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
80ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Combine the besan and salt, whisking in 600 ml water bit by bit to avoid creating lumps in the batter. When the batter is smooth, add the olive oil and combine. Let the mixture rest for at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  3. Pour the batter onto a lightly greased pizza tray or baking tray – the batter should be no more than 3 mm high.
  4. Bake in the hot oven for 20–30 minutes or until the cecina is golden brown, bubbling, flaky and crisp around the edges. It should still have a soft, almost creamy consistency in the middle.
  5. Serve hot, cut into slices, with freshly ground black pepper and extra-virgin olive oil to taste.
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