In the U.S., the difference between a standard pizza and "Sicilian" pizza often comes down to just the shape: It's rectangular, rather than round, and usually with a thicker crust, but still covered in tomato sauce and lots of gooey, melty mozzarella cheese.
Its original Sicilian ancestor, from the province surrounding the capital city of Palermo, is called sfincione (or sfinciuni in dialect) and it's enjoyed year-round, but particularly at New Year's and for the Feast of San Giovanni on June 24. The crust is light, fluffy and slightly spongy, rather than dense and chewy, with a crisp bottom layer, and it's traditionally topped with onions, tomatoes, anchovies, oregano, and a hard Sicilian sheep's-milk cheese, rather than mozzarella. The final touch is a crisp top layer of breadcrumbs. In the area around Palermo, it's often sold in bakeries, rather than pizzerias (which mostly turn out the typical round, Naples-style pizzas), or from streetside stands or food trucks.
Though making the dough involves rising time, there is no rolling or tossing required, so it's somewhat easier to make than a classic round pizza. A great starter recipe for those who might be intimidated by the idea of homemade pizza!
- For the Dough:
- About 3 1/2 cups/500 grams flour (all-purpose)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (25 grams) active dry yeast, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- About 8.5 fluid ounces/250 ml water
- For the Topping:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
- 3 medium onions (thinly sliced)
- 6 plum tomatoes (ripe, peeled; canned are fine)
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled and thinly sliced
- 6 anchovy fillets (finely chopped; you may omit these, if you're allergic or not a fan)
- 1/2 pound caciocavallo (if you can't find caciocavallo, you may substitute it with Pecorino Romano or an aged ("piccante") provolone, coarsely grated)
- 1 tablespoon oregano (chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
- 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs (homemade or store-bought)
For the Dough
Gather the ingredients.
Form the flour into a volcano-like shape with a center well on a large wooden cutting board or clean kitchen counter. Add the yeast (dissolved in water) to the center with the salt, and then the water. Knead until the dough is homogenous and form into a ball. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for at least 3 hours.
For the Topping
Gather the ingredients.
Heat the olive oil over low heat in a large skillet. Add the sliced onions and saute until softened and translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and garlic, using a wooden spoon or spatula to help the tomatoes break down as they cook. Continue cooking until sauce is slightly thickened, another 15 to 20 minutes.
Prepare the Pizza
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Spread the rested dough in a layer in the pan (about 1 inch high). Spread the anchovy pieces evenly over the dough and press in gently. Sprinkle about a quarter of the grated cheese over the crust, then cover evenly with a thin layer of the tomato sauce and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese, the breadcrumbs,, and the oregano. Drizzle the top generously with more olive oil, and then bake until the cheese is melted and the cheese and breadcrumbs are lightly browned, about 15 minutes.Slice into squares and serve. Can be served hot or at room temperature.