Coca is the generic name for a family of yeasted doughs or flat breads, quite enriched with fat and eggs, typical of the Mediterranean coast, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Andorra and even areas of Aragon. As Wikipedia tells us, the word coca comes from the same root as the English cake and the German kuchen… go figure. Although Mr. Colman Andrews, in his wonderful book Catalan Cuisine, says otherwise and gives us some clues about coca: «Coca is more or less the Catalan pizza, a flat base that admits a wide variety of fillings, whether sweet or not. […] The word itself derives, it seems, from the Latin coquere, cooking, and is used not only in Catalonia but also in the old Occitan language of the neighboring Toulouse and its surroundings. […] Savory cocas differ from pizzas not only in their usual shape, but in that they hardly ever carry cheese and herbs as a garnish, plus it is traditional to serve them at room temperature.» I especially like savory cocas because of that, because unlike pizza they are also delicious cold, like this roasted pepper coca.
The dough of savory cocas usually takes massive amounts of olive oil or lard. Well, this recipe of Mallorcan Coca carries both by the bushel. It is inspired in a dough of a Mallorcan cookbook which also attracted my attention because it includes orange juice among its ingredients. Vitamin C in the juice, i.e. ascorbic acid, is a bread improver known since ancient times, that reinforces the toughness and elasticity of gluten and I suppose in the case of such a fatty dough such as this it helps the gluten not fall apart completely. But it’s only a guess, as I would need to try this same recipe with water instead of juice. I will soon.
- 5 large red peppers
- 500g strong flour
- 60g water
- 5g dry bakers yeast or 15g fresh yeast
- 90g orange juice
- 1 medium egg
- 1 tsp salt
- 50g pork lard
- 120g extra virgin olive oil
- Extra lard for the tray
- Extra oil for brushing the peppers
- First you have to roast the peppers. Lay them on a cookie sheet with the oven preheated to 180 degrees, and roast from ½ to ¾ hour, until the skin is browned and loose.
- Transfer the peppers to a pan, cover and let cool. Do not forget to cover them, as it is essential for the skin to get loose and peel them properly.
- Peel, break them into strips and set aside on a colander. The liquid should be drained thoroughly, so that later it doesn't "flood" the dough.
- Prepare a biga the night before, to give the dough a bit deeper flavor, with 100g of flour, 60g of water and 2 pinches of dried yeast (5g fresh yeast). Mix and leave in a covered container to ferment overnight.
- The next day, mix the biga with the rest of the ingredients except the oil and lard. The dough will be quite dry, and when it coheres, add the fats (soften the lard in the microwave first) and keep kneading until all is well absorbed. The color you see in the photo on the final dough is real, yellow because of the oil I used, which was a great arbequina.
- Make the dough into a ball, put in a bowl, cover and let it proof. There's no need to oil the bowl or the counter, as this dough is very oily and does not stick.
- When it has doubled in volume, tip it on the counter and deflate it with a rolling pin. Roll the dough to the baking tray size. Smear the tray with lard and place the dough on it, pressing with your fingers to stretch it and leaving a rim a little thicker than the rest.
- Lay the pepper strips on the dough, slightly overlapped, because the baking makes the vegetables shrink. Don't overdo the filling though, because too much of it will render the middle of the coca soggy and uncooked. Generously salt the peppers, because they're very sweet.
- Put it in the oven preheated to 220ºC (air assisted) or 240°C (not air assisted) and bake about 20 minutes. Be careful to not burn the pepper, as it tends to burn at the edges because of its high sugar content.
- When baked through, remove it from the oven and brush the peppers with some olive oil *.
You can also shape the dough in two elongated-oval pieces. Either way this Mallorcan coca is equally delicious. I love when I have leftover coca, and with these amounts and unless you have guests, it’s pretty sure. So I can eat it for breakfast… That’s what I call luxury.
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