Cecina – A Traditional Tuscan Recipe

CecinaChickpea savoury cake

In 1284, Genoa defeated Pisa in the Battle of Meloria. On their return journey to Liguria, the ships incurred in a storm: all the provisions of chickpea flour and olive oil were overturned and soaked with sea water. The sailors gave this ugly paste to the prisoners, but some of them refused to eat it and left it on their bowls out on the deck, explosed to the sun. So, when the Genoese sailors found a better mixture baked under the sun, they perfected the recipe once returned home. In an act of mockery towards the prisoners from Pisa, thet called it Pisan Gold.

This one was a kind of a second attempt to the creation of “cecina”. Over a thousand years before, it is known that the Roman soldiers used to prepare a batter of chickpea flour and water and then cook it on their metal shields under the hot sun, when they needed to fill up their stomachs in a quick and economical way.

The Pisan Gold, then known as “cecina”, made its way to Tuscany in the 14th century through the Lunigiana mountains thanks to the merchants and also with the ships that went up the Arno river from Pisa to Florence. Today, “cecina” is one of the most well known traditional Tuscan foods: it’s easy to prepare and has a flavour that tastes like history, in a modern shape.

Ingredients (serves 8):

• 500 g chickpea flour
• 2 L cold water
• 80gms extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tsp salt


Slowly sift the flour into the water while mixing with a whisk and keep stirring until you obtain a smooth mixture on very low heat cook for up to 2 hours stiring until dense. Pass thru a sieve, then stir in the oil and salt and set aside for half an hour. Grease a shallow baking tray and pour in the chickpea flour mixture approx 1cm in thickness. Bake in a very hot oven until a thin crust is formed approx 10 mins, it should have lost the water and be golden in colour. Some pepper before cooking on the bottom of the tray others after. Serve hot, you can also add rosemary.


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