Sfinciuni

Sicilian Onion and Tomato Pizza

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    One

    18 cm 7 in Pizza

Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

This dish has ancient roots and is sometimes called schiavazza or rianata. One of the most famous versions was prepared by the nuns of the San Vito and Sfinciuni di Santu is still famous in the city of Palermo in Sicily. Unlike the thin and crispy pizzas usually associated with Italy, this simple Sicilian classic is sometimes half as deep as it is wide, and it has a soft and spongy texture.

Ingredients

  • 35 g/1 ¼ oz fresh/compressed yeast
  • 250 g/9 oz/2 ⅓ cups plain/all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting and kneading
  • 75 g/3 oz/¾ cup freshly grated pecorino or caciocavallo cheese
  • 250 ml/8 fl oz/1 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 500 g/1 ¼ lb ripe tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 50 g/2 oz/1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 5 large salted anchovies, rinsed, boned and chopped
  • 15-30 ml/1-2 tbsp coarse white breadcrumbs
  • sea salt and ground black pepper

Method

  1. Spoon 75 ml/5 tbsp hand-hot water into a small bowl. Crumble in the yeast, stir and set aside. Pile the flour on a clean work surface and make a hollow in the middle. Add 2.5 ml/½ tsp each of salt and pepper to the hollow, then spoon in one-third of the cheese.
  2. Pour 45 ml/3 tbsp of the oil into a pan and add the lemon juice. Warm until hand-hot, pour into the hollow, then add the yeast mixture. Stir, incorporating the surrounding flour. Add more warm water if needed and knead to a smooth, elastic dough. Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes more, then roll it into a ball and place it in a large bowl. Cut a cross in the top of the ball. Cover with a cloth, clear film or plastic wrap. Leave to rise for 2 hours in a warm place.

  3. Meanwhile, put the tomatoes in a bowl of boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Remove and peel. Halve them, remove the seeds and chop the flesh.

  4. Heat 60 ml/4 tbsp olive oil in a pan and fry the onion for 4-5 minutes, until transparent. Add the tomatoes. Season. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  5. Grease an 18cm/7in square cake tin or pan at least 10cm/4in deep (see Cook’s Tip) with oil. Knock back or punch down the dough, then knead for 10 minutes. Pat it out to the shape of the tin. Cover and leave to rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, mix the parsley, half the anchovies and half the remaining cheese into the tomato sauce.

  7. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. When the dough has risen, press a finger deeply into it at 5cm/2in intervals. Reserving a little, fill the hollows with the sauce, spreading some over the surface.

  8. Bake for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 45ml/3 tbsp of the remaining oil in a small frying pan and fry the breadcrumbs until crisp. Take the pizza out of the oven, spread the surface with the reserved tomato sauce, top with the remaining anchovies and cheese, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Drizzle with olive oil and return to the oven for 10 minutes more. Serve.

Variation

In Sicily, sausage meat/bulk sausage is sometimes spread over the dough with a little of the tomato sauce, topped with a second layer of the dough, then baked.