The Sicilian Pizza
Well, if you are a pizza lover like myself you can’t pass the Sicilian pizza. This pie is another example of rustic Italian cuisine also known as sfincione Unlike its famous counterpart, the Neapolitan Pizza, sfincione has a thick crust and is slathered with a simple tomato sauce, onion, anchovies, herbs and a bit of cheese mixed with breadcrumbs. Traditionally it is baked in a rectangular baking pan and cut into pieces.
What Makes A Traditional Sfincione?
The origins of this rustic pie can be traced back to the 1860s in Sicily/Italy. There are no strict guidelines on what makes a Sicilian pizza truly traditional. I guess the Sicilians are more laid back than their friends in Naples who developed rules and regulations to keep the traditions of producing a real Neapolitan pizza alive.
In the images below you find a few of the ingredients, you will need to bake sfincione which means translated ‘thick sponge.’ And the dough is certainly more a bread like dough similar to focaccia, one of my favorite food by the way.
There are certainly differences in making a Sicilian Pizza. It varies from region to region; the one in Palermo is different to the Province of Siracusa or around Messina.
Palermo is the home of the well-known Sicilian Pizza with its mostly rectangular shape. From there, Italian immigrants brought this bread like pizza to the States. Sicilian style pizzas are often referred to as thick-crust or deep-dish and are very popular throughout Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey or Oregon. Unlike the original version, the Italian-Americans use lots of Mozzarella cheese on top of the thick tomato sauce.
The dough is made with bread flour (some recipes state to mix it with semolina flour), salt, water yeast and a bit of olive oil. Once the dough has risen, you press the dough into a baking tray or baking pan which has a generous layer of olive oil. When the pizza bakes, the dough fries in the oil and that gives it a nice brown, crispy crust.
The toppings are very simple; tomato sauce seasoned with salt, pepper and a bit of sugar; oregano and onions. The onions are sauteed in olive oil before they go on the sauce. The sauce will then get a topping of breadcrumbs mixed with cheese like caciocavallo or toma plus anchovies.
Caciocavallo cheese is made from cow’s milk and matures for at least eight months. The longer the cheese ripens, up to two years, the more it develops a sharper flavour. The cheese has a shape like a tear drop. Just beautiful to look at and tasty!
Sometimes the toppings go underneath the sauce, so the dough doesn’t get soggy.
Province Of Siracusa
In this beautiful region, you will find the pizzolu, a round shaped stuffed pizza. It consists of two layers. The first layer of dough has a topping of local cheese and anchovies. The second layer of dough gets an egg wash to give it a glossy color. Another filling variety would be potatoes, sausages, tomato sauce and broccoli.
Another typical pizza style is Calzone; stuffed with cheese and anchovies which are either fried or baked. A variant of stuffings would be endive, toma cheese, tomatoes, and anchovies. Yummy!
Toma cheese is an Italian cheese made from cow’s milk. It is soft to semi-hard cheese.
I have found that Calzone pizza has become quite popular over the years. I remember my first holiday in Crete/Greece over 20 years ago. That’s when I tasted Calzone for the first time.
Summing It All Up
I recently read a well-written article by Scott Wiener, who is a self-confessed pizzaholic. He visited Palermo to learn more about Sicilian pizza and the differences to Sicilian-style pizza in the States. He discovered that if you want to taste the real deal, do not go to a pizza place. Rather look for a bakery or Panificio and you won’t go wrong. 🙂
The cool thing about making a Silician pizza is that you don’t need to apply strict guidelines as with the Neapolitan pizza. I would still recommend using the proper cheese like caciocavallo or toma cheese instead of mozzarella cheese. This way you will get more of an authentic taste.
Why not give it a go for your next lunch or dinner? Let me know which pizza style you prefer: Sicilian or Neapolitan pizza and why. I know, there are a few pizza experts around. Please let me know if I missed anything. Also, share your favorite pizza place with me and my readers.
Founder of woodfiredpizzaoven.org