“Coques” (singular: coca), in Valencian, are an entire division of “flat breads” typical from the area. They’re sometimes called “tortas” in Spanish, but most commonly referred to as “cocas”.
There are many versions: sweet or savoury, subtle or brutal. They’re often very seasonal: there are cocas for specific times of the year, festivities and events. They can also vary a lot between regions; seasonings and toppings might combine to make a very different result from what you’re used to, even if the base or the appearance are very similar.
Coca de Fira is traditionally eaten during the annual fair (fira, in Valencian) in my hometown. It is a really substantial dish, and a serving can keep you going for a long time, so it’s very suitable for browsing the goods on display and haggling for hours! (specially when November turns out to be cold, which happens from time to time).
This year marks the 600th anniversary of the fair, and my mum was telling me about all the celebrations she was attending to mark the occasion, and how of course they were celebrating with Coca de Fira. I got “a bit” jealous and so I decided to bake my own.
It is a bit difficult to achieve the exact coca you would get if you were in my hometown, because their cured meat has a very particular flavour provided by the seasoning, and also because they use a special type of mushrooms that I’ve never seen in London, but in the best spirit of the dish, I focused on getting a good base, and replaced ingredients with the closest I could get. And the result made me incredibly happy!
We attended this afternoon workshop at their Borough Market baking school a few weeks ago. It was actually my Christmas present, but we have been so busy lately that we could only find time in March to do it!
It was really fun, the teacher was absolutely phenomenal and enthusiastic, and I am really embarrassed to admit that I did not remember her name, but thank you, Teacher!
I was a bit scared about baking because I have tried to bake breads in the past and they always ended up really flat and tough. But the workshop helped me realise what my main issues were:
not enough time or the wrong environment for the yeasts to do their business,
often, the capital sin: adding more flour instead of kneading more when the dough is sticky.
I cooked these loosely following this recipe from Felicity Cloake.
Except for the fact that I halved the amounts for the batter, changed the types of flour, and also didn’t use the suggested savoury fillings. Hence the bastardisation 😂
Ingredients (for 3 very generous portions)
For the batter:
50 g strong wholemeal flour
50 g semolina flour (I wanted to get rid of it)
125 g oats, both rolled and whole mixed (I didn’t bother grinding them)
125 ml milk
100 ml almond milk
225 ml water
5 g yeast
Coconut oil (for frying)
For the filling and garnishing:
Preparation (30 min preparing + overnight + 30 min cooking)
Mix the flours and oats together in a bowl
Add the milks and water to a pot and warm it up “to blood temperature”. I used a thermometer to make sure it wouldn’t go past 35 C, as I’m too scared to tip my finger into the pot
Then take a bit of liquid aside into a small container, and mix the yeast there, cover and wait until it gets bubbly when the yeast starts working
Then tip the yeast mix into the pot, dissolve well into the liquid
Pour the liquid into the flours bowl, and mix well
Cover it with cling film, and leave the bowl outside for an hour so the yeast can do its bubbly thing before putting it in the fridge overnight, or put it in the fridge straight away. I actually left it outside for about 4 hours because I was curious as to what would happen.
Next morning the batter will be beautifully bubbly. But we’ll gently mix it before we fry it, to make sure all the oats are distributed evenly.
Thinly slice the fruits we’ll use for the filling. I used a banana and an apple.
Put oil on a pan (I am terrible, so I used coconut oil) and bring to a high heat.
When it’s hot, pour enough batter to form a not-super-thick pancake. Also add a few fruits in.
I feel this batter is quite unlike normal pancake batter, it is less liquid and it gets quite bubbly, which I enjoyed witnessing.
When it looks as if the underneath side is pretty cooked, carefully fold the pancake in half (be careful with the filling not being in the way—it helps if you make sure they’re all in one side only) and lightly squeeze it with the spatula to make sure the batter is well distributed.
You might want to flip the folded oatcake a couple of times until it looks done (magically, they don’t seem to burn as easily as pancakes).
Then remove to a dish, and move on to the next oatcake, until all the batter has been consumed.
I garnished them with some cinnamon, coconut flakes and agave syrup (I’m really terrible, yes).
Sorry to all Staffordshire natives I might have terrorised with this recipe, but we just didn’t have any bacon at home this morning and the shops opened at 12 as it’s a Sunday 💁🏻
But to be quite honest, they were great and they worked nicely with the cold brewed coffee that my partner prepared, so I have zero regrets 😜