The island of Sicily is Italy's largest region, and its tomato-rich cuisine contributed much to the international image of Italian cooking. Sfincione, whose name means "sponge", is often described as Sicilian pizza, although it's more like a focaccia. It's a specialty of Palermo and is often served as a street snack in the Sicilian capital's lively open-air markets.
- 10 gm dried yeast
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 130 ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 420 gm "00" flour
- 1½ onions, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 150 gm canned cherry tomatoes
- 2 large ripe Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
- 40 gm coarse fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp coarsely chopped oregano, plus extra to serve
- 90 gm each casiocavallo and provolone dolce, diced (see note)
- 1Combine yeast, sugar, 1 tsp sea salt and 250ml lukewarm water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix to combine. Add 30ml oil and half the flour, mix until smooth, cover and stand in a warm place until bubbling (8-10 minutes). Add remaining flour, knead until smooth and elastic (4-5 minutes), adding a little extra water if necessary to form a soft dough, transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, cut a cross in the top, cover and stand until doubled in size (25-30 minutes). Knock down dough, then refrigerate for 2 hours.
- 2Meanwhile, heat 60ml oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add onion, stir occasionally until golden (8-10 minutes), add garlic and cook until fragrant (1 minute). Transfer three-quarters of the onion mixture to a bowl and set aside. Add canned and fresh tomato to remaining onion mixture, stir occasionally until pulpy (8-10 minutes), season to taste and set aside.
- 3Meanwhile, combine anchovy and remaining 40ml oil in a small bowl. Combine breadcrumbs and oregano in a separate small bowl. Set both mixtures aside.
- 4Preheat oven to 200C. Roll out dough to a 35cm x 25cm rectangle, place on an oiled baking tray, stand in a warm place until dough rises slightly (15-20 minutes), then brush all over with anchovy mixture. Spread with half the tomato mixture, scatter with onion mixture and bake for 15 minutes.
- 5Remove sfincione from oven, spread with remaining tomato mixture, then scatter with breadcrumb mixture and cheeses. Drizzle with a little oil, bake until golden and bubbling (15-20 minutes), scatter with extra oregano and serve hot.
Casiocavallo and provolone dolce are available from specialist cheese shops.
This recipe is from the April 2012 issue of