When I lived in Catalunya, one of my favorite things to buy in a few local bakeries was a slice of coca. It's kind of a Spanish pizza or flatbread, but with some key differences - while toppings vary, most have no sauce and no cheese. But don't let that put you off, this is one delicious slice.
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I've mentioned before that I often think Spanish food is under-appreciated and less well known. True, most people know of paella, although probably not variations like black rice paella or fideua. Familiar tapas include Spanish tortilla and gazpacho, but probably not salt cod stuffed piquillo peppers and white wine marinated steak with blue cheese.
Part of that is many dishes are regional and so you won't even find them across all of Spain. Catalan coca is a case in point. While it's becoming more well known, it's really only popular in the Northeast and Mallorca. Which is a shame as it's a true treat.
Just as with Italian pizza, you'll find a few different toppings for Spanish pizza/flatbread. One that I saw regularly where I lived there is topped with caramelized onions, peppers and a little paprika.
It's incredibly simple, but works so well. Plus, it's vegan so lets more people enjoy a tasty slice.
How to make Catalan coca/ Spanish pizza
The coca base is pretty similar to any other pizza, and you can indeed use your favorite dough. If you make from scratch then make it with more olive oil and less water than you might be used to, as below.
It's a yeasted dough, so does need time to rise (though just once), but you can use this time to prepare the topping.
I've pre-cooked the topping to make sure the onions have that lovely caramelized flavor and the peppers are tender and soft. Yes, you might get some slightly burnt-looking bits as it cooks, but trim them off and it will taste absolutely fine.
Catalan coca might not be quite like most pizza's you've had before, but believe me, you won't be missing the sauce and cheese. Well, maybe the cheese in our house, but this is still one incredibly tasty slice, perfect for lunch, parties or any excuse.
Enjoy pizza? Try these other tasty takes on the theme:
- Lahmacun (Turkish lamb flatbread/pizza)
- Flammekueche (pizza/flatbread from Alsace with bacon and onion)
- Caramelized onion and gorgonzola pizza
- Green pizza (all the green veg!)
- Plus get more Spanish recipes in the archives.
Catalan coca (Spanish pizza)
For the pizza base
- 1 cup white bread flour
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup all purpose flour plain flour
- ¾ teaspoon fast-acting dried yeast also called instant yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoon plain yogurt eg Greek-style
- ¾ cups water warm
For the topping
- 1 onion
- 1 red pepper
- 4 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
Ahead of time
- To make the pizza dough, put the flours, yeast, salt and sugar in a large bowl and mix together. Make a slight well in the middle and add the oil, yogurt and water and carefully mix together into a dough. It will be slightly wet and sticky. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, stretching the dough away from you with the back of your hand, folding the stretched part over on top of the rest of the dough, turning 90 degrees then repeating. Add a little more flour as you go, if needed. After around 5 minutes it should stop feeling sticky. Clean out the mixing bowl, lightly oil it then form the dough into a ball and put it in the bowl. Cover with cling film/plastic wrap and leave it to rest somewhere warm for about an hour, possibly more, until it doubles in size.
- While the dough is rising, prepare the topping. Thinly slice the onions and peppers. Warm the oil in a medium skillet/frying pan and cook the onions, stirring regularly, over a medium heat until softening. Add the peppers then continue to cook until the onions are starting to caramelize (becoming very soft and going slightly brown but not burning). Set aside.
As ready to cook
- When ready to make the pizzas, preheat oven to 425F/220C. Put baking sheets in the oven to allow them to pre-heat.
- Knock back the pizza dough (prod with your fingers after turning it out of the bowl) and divide into 2 (alternatively, you can make one large pizza or more smaller). Keep the piece(s) you are not working with to one side, covered, while you work on the one pizza.
- Roll out the pizza dough into a circle or rectangle, as you prefer, and as suits your baking sheet/tray. Roll it about as thin as you can and transfer to a piece of parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Top the pizzas with the onion-pepper mixture then sprinkle over the paprika. Bake for approx 10-12 minutes until the base is lightly brown. Trim off any burnt pieces of onion and serve.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.