Lo Sfincione: Original Sicilian Pizza

Lo Sfincione, The Original Sicilian-Style Pizza

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Rise: 3 hrs
Total: 4 hrs 5 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Yield: 1 pizza
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
507 Calories
15g Fat
73g Carbs
20g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 507
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 29mg 10%
Sodium 830mg 36%
Total Carbohydrate 73g 27%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 20g
Vitamin C 21mg 106%
Calcium 374mg 29%
Iron 5mg 26%
Potassium 529mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Traditional Sicilian sfincione—or sfinciuni in the local dialect—while enjoyed year-round, is often served at New Year's and during the Feast of San Giovanni. The crust of this bread-like pizza is light, fluffy, and slightly spongy, with a crisp bottom layer. It's traditionally topped with onions, tomatoes, anchovies, oregano, and a hard Sicilian sheep's milk cheese called Caciocavallo. The final touch is a crisp top layer of breadcrumbs that holds the tomato sauce in place and gives a golden color to this deliciously fluffy dish. If you're not already salivating, then invest a weekday afternoon discovering what might be your new favorite pizza.

Although time-consuming because of the proving time of the dough, this is a beautiful dish that you need to try at home. Besides, there is no rolling or tossing required, so it's somewhat easier to make than a classic round pizza. It's a great starter recipe for those who might be intimidated by the idea of homemade pizza.

For American eaters, the main difference between a standard pizza and Sicilian pizza is most evident in their shapes: rather than round and thin-crusted, Sicilian is rectangular and thicker. Both have tomato sauce, but Sicilian has breadcrumbs and hard cheese, while standard pizza has lots of gooey, melty mozzarella cheese. In short, you need to try sfincione to pick your favorite style. If you can't find Caciocavallo, use Pecorino Romano, Provolone piccante, or Scamorza.

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 3 1/2 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water

  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 8 1/2 fluid ounces (250 milliliters) water, more as needed

For the Sauce:

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more to taste

  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced

  • 6 large ripe plum tomatoes, peeled

  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

For Topping the Pizza:

  • 6 anchovy fillets, finely chopped, optional

  • 8 ounces Caciocavallo cheese, or Pecorino Romano cheese, coarsely grated

  • 1 1/2 cups store-bought or homemade breadcrumbs

  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped

Steps to Make It

Make and Prove the Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Lo Sfincione, The Original Sicilian-Style Pizza, dough ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. On a large wooden cutting board or clean kitchen counter, form the flour into a volcano-like shape with a center well.

    flour on a cutting board

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

  3. Add the dissolved yeast mixture into the center well. Add the salt followed by the water.

    flour, yeast, water and salt on a cutting board

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

  4. Pull flour into the center and mix. Once the dough forms, start to knead.

    knead dough on a cutting board

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

  5. Knead until the dough is homogenous and smooth and forms into a ball.  If needed, add more water.

    dough ball on a cutting board

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

  6. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for at least 3 hours. 

    dough ball covered with a kitchen towel

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

Prepare the Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Lo Sfincione, The Original Sicilian-Style Pizza, toppings ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over low heat in a large skillet. Add the sliced onions and sauté until softened and translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. 

    onions cooking in a pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

  3. Add the tomatoes and garlic. Using a wooden spoon, break down the tomatoes as they cook.

    onions, tomatoes and garlic cooking in a pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

  4. Continue cooking until the sauce is slightly thickened, or 15 to 20 minutes. 

    onions, tomatoes and garlic cooking in a pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

Prepare the Pizza

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Grease a baking sheet with the remaining olive oil.

    greased baking sheet

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

  2. Spread the rested dough to form a crust of about 1 inch high. Gently push it to fill out the pan without using too much force, as you want to keep in as much air as possible.

    pizza dough on a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

  3. If using, spread the anchovy pieces evenly over the dough and press them in gently.

    anchovies on pizza dough on a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

  4. Sprinkle about a quarter of the grated cheese over the crust, then cover evenly with a thin layer of tomato sauce.

    cheese and tomato sauce on pizza dough

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

  5. Sprinkle the pizza with the remaining grated cheese, breadcrumbs, and the oregano. Drizzle the top generously with more olive oil to taste.

    grated cheese, breadcrumbs, oregano and olive oil on top of pizza

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

  6. Bake until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are lightly browned, or about 15 minutes.

    Lo Sfincione, The Original Sicilian-Style Pizza on a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

  7. Slice into squares and serve hot or at room temperature. 

    sliced Lo Sfincione, The Original Sicilian-Style Pizza on a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 

  8. Enjoy!

Recipe Variations

  • Six large canned tomatoes can replace the plum tomatoes.
  • If you don't have fresh oregano, use teaspoon of dried oregano.

Is Sfincione Sold by Weight in Italy?

In Italy, pizzas and bread are sold by weight, which makes sense considering not all slices or squares of pizza, sfincione, focaccia, or loaves of bread are equal in size—or have the same amount of toppings. Although surprising for tourists, this is the fairer way of selling and acquiring these items. The menus have pizzas priced by kilogram, and the price varies depending on the toppings each type has. Your sfincione piece might not be equally expensive as the one your friend is eating, but likely close in price—and of course equally delicious.