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Ciarán Osgerby’s farinata
A flatbread by the gluten-free Badger Bakery owner.
This very simple flatbread made with chickpea flour is gluten-free, vegan and completely delicious. It’s also surprisingly filling, as I found to my cost when I ordered a large helping and struggled to finish it.
I was first introduced to this lovely flatbread in Italy in 2008 when I went to visit my wife’s aunt. She moved to Italy as a 19-year-old English au pair in the late ‘sixties, fell in love with a local and never came home.
She lives in Albenga, which is a lovely ancient town, nestled on a plain in Liguria on the Italian Riviera. The region is famous for its amazing vegetables, seafood, pesto and farinata.
If you do ever find yourself in Albenga then you must go and find da Puppo Farinata, which is on Via Torlaro, down an alleyway near the old medieval towers in the middle of the old town. It is very popular with the locals and always packed out.
Enough to feed six people
300g good quality chickpea (aka gram) flour, sifted
1l tepid water
1tsp finely-ground black pepper
1 clove garlic (peeled)
1tbsp sea salt
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, needles picked off the stems*
Handful of finely-sliced onions or shallots (optional)
30ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying and dressing the finished flatbread
*Other woody herbs like thyme will also work but rosemary is the traditional herb to use.
Put the water, garlic, sea salt, black pepper and sifted chickpea flour into a bowl with 30ml of olive oil and stir the mixture with a whisk to form a thick batter.
Cover the bowl and let the mixture stand at room temperature for at least two to four hours, but ideally overnight - this will allow the mixture to ferment, which will give the flatbread a light, airy texture. You will get a froth on top of your mixture which you will need to scoop off before you start cooking.
Preheat your oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Traditionally, farinata is baked quickly in a hot, wood-fired pizza oven, which adds a lovely smoky flavour, but a bread oven or regular oven will work just as well.
Heat a large, heavy, ovenproof frying-pan or a good-sized paella pan or shallow-sided baking tray** on the stove until it is almost smoking. If you are using a wood-fired oven, you can pre-heat the pan directly in that.
Cover the bottom of the pan with a generous covering of extra virgin olive oil and pour in the batter so that it is no more than a centimetre deep, turning the pan as you go so that you get a nice even covering, as you would for a pancake.
If you want to you can add a few sliced onions or shallots to the mixture before putting the pancake in the oven, or scatter over a few more rosemary needles (or other woody herbs) before cooking in the oven. In Liguria they often sprinkle finely-chopped salami or cheese over it.
The mixture should start to bubble, which is the time to transfer the pan into the oven. Cook for between 10-12 minutes until the farinata has set, the edges are going crispy and it has a golden top.
Remove the farinata from the oven and sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary or any topping of your choice. Cut the farinata into slices, remove it from the pan and repeat with the rest of the mixture.
Serve it hot
**Authentic, tinned copper farinata pans are round and shallow, shaped very much like a paella pan, but they are very expensive!
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Recipe © Ciarán Osgerby / Badger Bakery. Reproduction prohibited without written agreement of the copyright holder.
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Published 2 Apr 2019
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