Pizza

Sicilian Pizza (Lo Sfincione)

April 27, 2020 by Emily

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Sicilian Pizza aka Lo Sfincione made with a thick, soft rectangular pizza crust, a rich tomato sauce flavoured with onions and anchovies and topped with breadcrumbs. Learn how to make this Sicilian street food at home with easy step by step photos and video tutorial!

An overhead shot of Sfincione pizza cut into slices

If you’ve never tried Sicilian pizza then you’re missing out.

The crust is super thick more like focaccia and it’s baked in a rectangular baking tray with the most amazing tomato sauce.

The sauce consists of tomato, slow-cooked onions, a ton of anchovies and caciocavallo cheese.

It’s then spread thick on top of the soft, pillowy pizza crust and then topped with crunchy breadcrumbs and dried oregano.

Yup, it’s pizza heaven!

Fun Fact: Sfincione comes from the Latin word Sfincia which means sponge. See the photo below that shows the thick, spongey base!

A side shot of a thick pizza crust that's light and airy topped with tomato sauce

Sicilian Pizza Vs Regular Pizza

There are two well-known types of Italian pizza; the Neapolitan style pizza which has a thick outer crust and then the thin and crispy pizza crust.

Sicilian pizza is completely different, here are some key points that makes it so unique:

  • There is no outer border – usually when you make pizza you leave a border around the edge when you add the toppings but not with Sfincione, instead, the toppings are spread out right to the edge.
  • The dough is proved twice – regular pizza is proved only once in a bowl after kneading but Sicilian pizza is prooved a second time in a large baking tray with the toppings on so it develops a super thick, light and spongey crust.
  • No mozzarella – Traditionally Sfincione isn’t made with mozzarella, it’s made with caciocavallo cheese which is mixed into the sauce or sometimes sprinkled on the pizza base before the tomato sauce.
  • There’s a thick layer of sauce – traditionally pizza should have a thin layer of sauce so the pizza stays nice and crisp. Since Sfincione has such a thick crust there needs to be a thick layer of sauce on top!
  • It’s topped with breadcrumbs – Sfincione is topped with breadcrumbs and oregano, so delicious!

What if I can’t find Caciocavallo cheese?

Caciocavallo is a teardrop-shaped cheese made from cows or sheep milk.

You should be able to find it in Italian delis but if you can’t the taste is similar to aged provolone cheese so that’s a great substitute to use.

Other cheeses you could use that work well are scamorza (unsmoked), semi-hard pecorino or a mild gouda.

How to make Sicilian pizza – step by step

Add the flour to a large mixing bowl and add the sugar, salt and yeast making sure to not place the yeast directly on the salt (photo 1).

Stir to combine the dried ingredients then make a well in the center and add the warm water and olive oil (photo 2).

Step by step photos showing how to make Sicilian pizza dough

Step by step photos showing pizza dough rising

Stir to form a dough then tip out onto a clean work surface lightly dusted with flour.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic then place in a clean bowl lightly greased with a little olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to prove for around 3 hours or until tripled in size (photos 3-6).

Meanwhile, make the sauce, add the olive oil to a large pan or skillet on a medium heat.

Add the sliced onion and saute slowly until soft and translucent (5-10 minutes). Once soft add the anchovies and stir, breaking them up as they cook. Saute the onions and anchovies for 5 minutes (photos 7 & 8).

Step by step photos showing how to make the pizza sauce

Add the tomatoes and simmer the sauce for 15 minutes (photo 9).

Next, add the cubed cheese with a pinch of salt and pepper and continue to cook the sauce for another 10 minutes, set aside to cool (photo 10 & 11).

After the dough has risen, tip it out into a clean work surface lightly dusted with flour and divide into two. Roll each half of dough out into a rectangle big enough to fit the tray, it should be around ½ inch thick (photo 12).

Step by step photos showing how to roll out the pizza dough

Lightly grease the baking tray with olive oil and place the dough in the tray. Top with half of the prepared sauce making sure to spread it out to the edges. Repeat with the second pizza (photos 13 & 14).

Cover with plastic wrap and leave to prove for a second time for two hours or until doubled in size (photo 15).

Pre-heat the oven to 450F/230C.

Mix the breadcrumbs, grated pecorino, dried oregano and olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle over each pizza (photo 16).

Step by step photos showing how to top the pizza with sauce

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, let rest for 5 minutes then cut into slices and serve (photos 17 & 18).

Other variations and topping ideas

Like any pizza you can top Sfincione with whatever you like although I recommend trying the traditional topping first, here are some other ideas:

  • Tuna, capers & smoked scamorza cheese
  • Anchovies, capers and mozzarella (pizza Napoli)
  • Salami or cured meats
  • Gorgonzola and taleggio are perfect for pizza
  • Olives
  • Veggies such as artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, bell peppers

How to store leftover dough, sauce or pizza

This recipe makes two pizzas with sauce so if you don’t want to bake two you can cut the dough in half, roll them into two separate balls and freeze one while you let the other half prove.

You can also freeze leftover sauce and thaw as needed. Making a big batch is a great way to meal prep for a later date!

If you have leftover pizza then it will keep well for around 1-2 days or you can freeze the cooked pizza in slices and bake from frozen in a pre-heated oven until cooked through.

A close up of a slice of Sicilian pizza with breadcrumbs at the side

Top tips for making Lo Sfincione (Sicilian Pizza)

  • Make sure to let the dough prove for long enough, it needs to triple in size with the first prove then rise again in the baking tray for at least 1-2 hours. This will ensure your crust is thick and light.
  • When you move the dough to the baking tray to prove, add the toppings at the same time so you don’t knock any air out later.
  • Bake this pizza at the highest temperature your oven will go for best results!
  • This recipe makes enough dough and toppings for two pizzas so if you don’t want to use it all you can freeze half the dough and sauce.
  • Make sure your baking tray has tall edges at least 3 inches tall.
  • After baking, let the pizza rest for 5 minutes before cutting.
  • You can use chopped or plum canned tomatoes or passata (pureed tomatoes) to make the sauce.
  • If you can’t find caciocavallo cheese you can use aged provolone, pecorino, unsmoked scamorza or a mild gouda.
  • If you don’t have a 13×9 inch baking tray then you can use any deep baking tray you have just make sure the dough is around 1/2 inch thick in the tray before the second prove.

More Italian pizza recipes you might like

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Step By Step Photos AboveMost of our recipes come with step by step photos, helpful tips and tricks to make it perfectly first time and even video!
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5 from 1 vote

Sicilian Pizza Sfincione

Sicilian Pizza aka Lo Sfincione made with a thick, soft rectangular pizza crust, a rich tomato sauce flavoured with onions and anchovies and topped with breadcrumbs. Learn how to make this Sicilian street food at home with easy step by step photos and video tutorial!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 5 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 30 minutes
Servings 16 thick slices
Calories 236kcal
Author Emily Kemp

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 4 cups 00 flour (500g)
  • 1 ⅓ cup lukewarm water (320ml)
  • 2 tsp fast action yeast (7g)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil plus extra for greasing
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt

For the sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion thinly sliced
  • 7-8 salted anchovies
  • 28 oz canned plum tomatoes can also use pureed tomatoes or canned chopped tomatoes (800g)
  • ½ cup cacciocavallo cheese cubed, can also use provolone, pecorino or mild gouda (100g)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Breadcrumb topping

Instructions

  • Add the flour to a large mixing bowl and add the sugar, salt and yeast making sure to not place the yeast directly on the salt.
  • Stir to combine the dried ingredients then make a well in the center and add the warm water and olive oil.
  • Stir to form a dough then tip out onto a clean work surface lightly dusted with flour. Knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic then place in a clean bowl lightly greased with a little olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to proof for around 3 hours or until tripled in size.
  • Meanwhile, make the sauce, add the olive oil to a large pan or skillet on a medium heat.
  • Add the sliced onion and saute slowly until soft and translucent (5-10 minutes). Once soft add the anchovies and stir, breaking them up as they cook. Saute the onions and anchovies for 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and simmer the sauce for 15 minutes.
  • Next, add the cubed cheese with a pinch of salt and pepper and continue to cook the sauce for another 10 minutes, set aside to cool.
  • After the dough has risen, tip it out into a clean work surface lightly dusted with flour and divide into two. Roll each half of dough out into a rectangle big enough to fit a 13x9 inch baking tray, it should be around ½ inch thick.
  • Lightly grease the baking tray with olive oil and place the dough in the tray. Top with half of the prepared sauce making sure to spread it out to the edges. Repeat with the second pizza.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and leave to proof for a second time for two hours or until doubled in size.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 450F/230C.
  • Mix the breadcrumbs, grated pecorino, dried oregano and olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle over each pizza.
  • Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, let rest for 5 minutes then cut into slices and serve.

Notes

  • Make sure to let the dough prove for long enough, it needs to triple in size with the first prove then rise again in the baking tray for at least 1-2 hours. This will ensure your crust is thick and light.
  • When you move the dough to the baking tray to prove, add the toppings at the same time so you don't knock any air out later.
  • Bake this pizza at the highest temperature your oven will go for best results!
  • This recipe makes enough dough and toppings for two pizzas so if you don't want to use it all you can freeze half the dough and sauce.
  • Make sure your baking tray has tall edges at least 3 inches tall.
  • After baking, let the pizza rest for 5 minutes before cutting.
  • You can use chopped or plum canned tomatoes or passata (pureed tomatoes) to make the sauce.
  • If you can't find caciocavallo cheese you can use aged provolone, pecorino, unsmoked scamorza or a mild gouda.
  • If you don't have a 13x9 inch baking tray then you can use any deep baking tray you have just make sure the dough is around 1/2 inch thick in the tray before the second prove.

Nutrition

Calories: 236kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 222mg | Potassium: 345mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 107IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 90mg | Iron: 2mg
Helpful Info for All Recipes
  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
  • When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
  • All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
  • All recipes are tested and developed using a fan (convection) oven
  • Find out more about how nutrition is calculated here
  • Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples here
  • You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking here
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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Lisa
    April 29, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    This is my favorite kind of pizza I love the thick crust. I like to top with marinara sauce and mozzarella.5 stars

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