Sfincione is a thick Sicilian pizza, or more precisely a focaccia, topped with tomatoes, onions, a few anchovies and casciocavallo cheese cubes and grated Romano cheese, seasoned with a dash of oregano.
With a spongy crust an inch thick, sfincione is more like bread than pizza –which in Italy usually has a thin crust. The tomatoes are essential, but the real flavor of sfincione comes from the onions, sautéed in olive oil before baking.
Sfincione is made or sold by a sfinciunaro. Street vendors sell sfincione, but some of the best is made by bakeries By tradition, sfincione is served on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and Good Friday. In warmer months it is served at room temperature.
“Sfincione” doesn’t refer to just any thick pizza. The genuine article is very simple: dough, tomatoes, onions, cheese, anchovies and breadcrumbs. Unlike its circular cousin (pizza) sfincione is baked in a square tray and cut into square or rectangular pieces.
- For the Dough
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 teas. salt
- 1-1/2 teas. instant or RapidRise yeast
- 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water
- For the Breadcrumbs
- 1-1/2 cups plain breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated romano cheese
- For the Sauce
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large onions, sliced thin (about 2 1/2 cups total)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 8 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (you can add to your sauce or cut into pieces to top your dough or both)
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand or in a food mill
- For the toppings
- caciocavallo cheese cubes
- anchovy filets
Make the Dough: Mix ingredients in a mixer using your dough hook. Knead for 5 minutes. Cover dough and let rise for 2 hours.
Make the Breadcrumbs: Mix breadcrumb ingredients and set aside.
Make the Sauce: Heat olive oil and onions in a large sautée pan over medium heat. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until onions are deep golden brown, about 20 minutes total. Add sauce ingredients and mix into onions. Simmer to make a thick stew. Set aside to cool down.
When ready to assemble, preheat the oven to 425°F. Coat in the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Carefully remove the dough from the bowl and with fingers form it to the side of your pan. The dough should spread to mostly fill the pan. Gently stretch and shape it to fill out to the edges. Poke it with cubed cheese and anchovies. Let rise another 30 minutes.
Carefully spread a generous layer of sauce to within 1/4-inch of the edges of the dough, taking care not to deflate the dough excessively. The sauce will spread better if it’s allowed to come to room temperature first. Top the entire top surface with the cheesy breadcrumbs (you may not need all the crumbs). Top with grated romano cheese. Bake until top is golden brown and the bottom is crisp and bubbly when you peek with a metal spatula, about 20-25 minutes.
Remove from the pan using a thin metal spatula and transfer to a cutting board. Serve immediately. Makes one sheet pan pizza.