This is one the most famous street foods of the city of Palermo, Sicily.
At a first sight it might look like a pizza, but it’s more like a focaccia. It has a very soft dough, thanks also to the little fat used, it’s spongy, it’s usually thick, and it’s topping it’s very tasty 🙂 and the breadcrumbs on the top give a very interesting crunchiness to this recipe.
You can find street sellers through all the city, selling it on their Ape car and calling the people through a loudspeaker, repeating slogans that became famous and immediately recognizable by the locals. One of these slogans says “Va tastalu, è scarsu r’uogghiu e chinu i pruvulazzu” that translated means “run to taste it, it lacks in terms of oil but is full of dust” 😀
But it’s also a recipe that people in Palermo use to prepare during Christmas time, so it’s also a festive food.
I specified “palermitano” because actually there are some other types of sfincione, which are very different from this: the sfincione of Bagheria (a near village, it’s usually made without tomato, it has tuma cheese and also sheep ricotta) and the sfincione of San Vito (this has a very rich filling, with pork meat, salami, tomato, primosale cheese and it’s covered with a second layer of dough).
As you can see, it reminds also some types of American pizza 🙂 100 and more years ago most of the Italian migrants to USA came from Sicily and other southern Italian regions, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them brought this recipe to the USA, and then developed some similar recipes according to the local taste and ingredients 🙂
Of course, like all the recipes of this kind, the whole process can be faster if you use more yeast, but to reach the best results in terms of flavor, lightness of the dough and digestibility, the best is always if you use just a little bit of yeast and wait for the necessary time, and that’s what I always do.
Let’s see how to make it.
- 300 g Manitoba flour (strong flour, mine had a strength index of W360 )
- 150 g durum flour, “semola rimacinata di grano duro” (but in this case I used “sfarinato di gran duro” Senatore Cappelli)
- 300 ml water
- 7 g fresh baker’s yeast
- 20 g lard
- 10 g salt
For the topping:
- 700 g onions
- 600 g canned tomatoes (I used “pelati”, San Marzano DOP)
- 150 g bread (without crust)
- 75 g Pecorino cheese, freshly grated
- 200 g caciocavallo cheese (caciocavallo palermitano or Ragusano DOP)
- 5-6 anchovies, salt-cured (or if you don’t have 10-12 fillets kept under oil)
- extra virgin olive oil
- 200 ml water
- dried oregano
- freshly ground black pepper
- First we have to make the dough the day before. Sift the flours, add the yeast and 2/3 of the water and start to work it. While it’s working add the remaining water, then when it’s almost shaped into a mass add the salt and then the melted lard. Work it some minutes and then place it in a bowl greased with some olive oil, cover it and place it in the fridge for 20 hours.
- After the 20 hours take out the dough from the fridge, squeeze it on your working table, work it for 2-3 minutes with your hands, then form again a ball and place it back in the bowl, covered, for another 2 hours, for example inside the oven.
- Meanwhile prepare the topping. Cut the onions into thin slices and cook at low heat with extra virgin olive oil and about 200 ml of water. Cook them with a cover for at least 30 minutes. Then add the canned tomatoes, some sugar (about a tablespoon), a little pinch of salt (not too much, there is also a lot of cheese and the anchovies) and keep cooking, uncovered, until the sauce will get thicker. Season with some salt and pepper. When it’s ready switch off the heat and let it cool down.
- Then prepare the “muddica“, the breadcrumbs: discard the crust from the bread and then reduce it into small pieces with a food processor. Then take a pan and toast it, adding extra virgin olive oil. Toast until it gets a nice color and becomes crunchy. Then let it cool down and mix it in a bowl with the grated Pecorino cheese.
- After the 2 hours flatten the dough with your hands, carefully, at about 1-1,5 cm thick and place it in the oven tray, previously greased with extra virgin olive oil.
- Cut the caciocavallo cheese in slices and place over the dough. Then add the anchovies and the oregano. Then cover with the onion sauce and for last with the breadcrumbs and Pecorino mix. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- Bake at 220 °C, static mode, for about 25 minutes.
- When it’s ready let it cool down at least 10 minutes. Enjoy! 🙂 The dough it’s so light and soft! Delicious 🙂 (it’s good also cold)
Flour: organic Manitoba flour and organic “sfarinato di grano duro Senatore Cappelli” from Mulino Marino
Cheese: Pecorino Siciliano DOP and Ragusano DOP