Makes: 4 to 6 appetizer servings Time: A bout 45 minutes, largely unattended (longer for resting, if time allows)
The simplest bread is nothing more than water and flour. Heat some olive oil in a pan—you can add other flavorings, too—and this basic formula becomes a quick flatbread that’s ready in the time it takes to cook dinner. The idea comes from the recipe for socca (also called farinata), the Mediterranean “pizza” made from chickpea flour (see the variation below). Chickpea flour and buckwheat flour are certainly options for the main recipe, too, but whole wheat flour and cornmeal are far more common and equally delicious.
A couple of technical details. The resting time for the batter is optional, but it results in a more complex flavor and a creamier, less gritty texture. If you’re in a hurry, though, just let the batter sit while the oven heats. It’s still awesome. And though a round pizza pan with a lip is ideal, a 10- or 12-inch skillet also works well; the bread in the smaller pan will need less oil, will be a slightly bit thicker, and will take another 5 or 10 minutes to bake.
You can bake the bread up to several hours in advance; warm it a little if you like—or not.
1 cup whole wheat flour or cornmeal, or chickpea flour (also called besan; sold in Middle Eastern, Indian, and health food stores) 1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil (see the headnote)
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves (optional)
1 Put the flour into a bowl; add salt; then slowly add 11/2 cups water, whisking to eliminate lumps. Cover with a towel, and let sit while oven heats, or as long as 12 hours. The batter should be about the consistency of thin pancake batter.
2 When ready to bake, heat the oven to 450°F. Put the oil in a 12-inch rimmed pizza pan or skillet (along with the onion and rosemary if you’re using them) and put in the heated oven. Wait a couple of minutes for the oil to get hot, but not smoking; the oil is ready when you just start to smell it. Carefully remove the pan (give the onions a stir); then pour in the batter, and return the skillet to the oven. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until the flatbread is well browned, firm, and crisp around the edges. (It will release easily from the pan when it’s done.) Let it rest for a couple minutes before cutting it into wedges or squares.