Sicilian Pizza or as traditionally called Sfincione, is a traditional Sicilian thick crust pizza topped with tomato, onion, breadcrumbs and sometimes hard cheese. Here is how to make it.
What is Sicilian Pizza?
The authentic Sicilian style pizza originated in Palermo, Sicily and is often called Sfincione, which means thick sponge.
It is a sheet pan pizza where the crust is made directly in a sheet pan.
It has a spongy fluffy base smeared with a sauce made of tomatoes, onions, and herbs.
It is also topped with anchovies and hard cheese and is baked in a square baking tray.
A pizza’s crust can make or break a pizza. While ordering a pizza, one should wisely choose the crust.
Depending on how you like the crust, you can choose between thin crust, regular, deep dish, and Sicilian crust.
Sicilian immigrants brought the Sicilian style pizza to the United States. The Detroit style pizza draws its lineage from it as well.
Traditional it doesn’t use mozzarella cheese as most of the milk used in Sicily comes from sheep and goat and not a cow.
However, york style; the version that’s sold in New York and other parts of the US have a topping of Mozzarella.
This may be because when this Pizza came to the US, there was a generous supply of Mozzarella in this part of the world and it made it’s way on top of Sicilian born pizza as well.
You will find this pizza or Sfincione in all the Italian bakeries or panificios.
Mostly a meatless version of this pizza is served on New Year’s Eve, Good Friday, December 7 (eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception) and Christmas Eve.
In the warmer days, it is served at room temperature.
The base of the authentic Sicilian type pizza is usually made of thick spongy dough, consisting of flour, water, yeast, and olive oil.
You mix all these ingredients and leave it for some time to rise and then press it into a rimmed baking sheet or a square-shaped baking pan brushed with some oil.
Ensure to fill the pan with the dough.
If you are not making the pizza immediately; you can also keep the dough in a plastic wrap for a couple of days in the refrigerator.
Then it is topped with a sauce made of tomatoes, onions, breadcrumbs, anchovies, red pepper, herbs and spices.
Then with some chard strong cheese, it goes in the oven to bake. The texture of this crust is a crispy outer layer and bottom and soft and spongy middle.
Traditionally, onion sautéed in oil is also topped on the pizza but I have skipped it. You can definitely top your pizza with some.
Minced garlic: I have used minced garlic as it gets flaky and crispy in the oven and adds a crunch to the pizza.
Pizza Sauce: In the authentic Italian version, pizza sauce or tomato sauce is not used. Instead crushed tomatoes are slathered along with other ingredients.
I had my homemade Pizza sauce ready and it was a great addition to this pizza. It is much more flavourful than just plain tomatoes.
Mushroom and green bell pepper: I have used mushroom and green capsicum, instead of onions or tomatoes.
These toppings are not traditional but taste great. You can even use red pepper or yellow pepper.
Boiled Chicken: Traditionally it is topped with anchovies, but I have used boiled chicken. You can use any meat you like.
Parmesan cheese and sliced mozzarella: In authentic Sicilian type Pizza, hard strong cheese like caciocavallo and toma are used.
I have used a mix of parmesan and mozzarella cheese. You can just use mozzarella if you don’t have parmesan available.
Traditionally Mozzarella was not used to make this pizza, but the US version has it.
Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs are an important ingredient in this pizza. It makes the pizza crunchy and crispy.
Basil leaves: Basil leaves give a unique flavor to the pizza and is one of my favorite flavors.
What is the difference between Sicilian and Normal Pizza?
A normal pizza is typically round, whereas a Sicilian styled is rectangular.
The crust is thick and spongy unlike a normal pizza, where the crust is dense and thin.
The dough for uses more oil than the regular pizza.
It is heavy and fluffy, and its bottom is crispy because the pan is first seasoned with oil. It’s more like a focaccia.
Sicilian vs Neapolitan Pizza
There is a very slight and subtle difference between these two types of pizza.
Neapolitan pizza is always baked in a wood-fired dome-shaped oven. The dough is hand-kneaded into a thin round.
The crust is slightly thinner than Sicilian.
Whereas Sicilian style pizza is rectangular and the dough is thick and spongy. It uses more oil and is heavy and fluffy.
The crust from below is almost fried due to the oil brushed on the pan.
Is it Same as Deep Dish Pizza?
No Sicilian and deep-dish pizza is different. A deep dish is also known as Chicago-style pizza.
It is almost like a pie, but not really a pie. It is baked in a deep-dish pan this is oiled generously to get a crispy crust.
The slices can be 2-inch thick. The dough is usually made of cornmeal, semolina and food color to get a yellow-colored crust.
It has a unique texture.
It is usually topped with onions, tomatoes, herbs, anchovies, and cheese like caciocavallo and toma.
Some Sicilian style pizza versions do not include cheese.
The onion slices are mostly sautéed in oil until almost caramelized and then they are topped on the pizza.
Traditional Sicilian variety doesn’t use mozzarella cheese but the US version has it.
You can go ahead and top it with pepperoni, mushroom, onion slices or any other topping of your choice. Just don’t call it traditional then 🙂
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Step by Step Recipe
Add all the ingredients in the bowl of the stand mixer.
Mix until combined.
Knead the dough on medium speed for 3-4 minutes.
Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and keep in a warm place for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.
Pre heat the oven to 500 Degrees F (260 Degrees C). Mix minced garlic with olive oil.
Brush a 9×13 inch rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Transfer the pizza dough on to it. Stretch the dough to fill the pan.
Drizzle olive oil mixed with minced garlic all over the dough and brush it all over.
Cover the baking sheet and keep it aside for the dough to rise for 30 minutes.
Remove the cover and top the dough with pizza sauce.
Top with mushroom, chicken, bell pepper, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, mozzarella, salt and pepper.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Remove the tray from the oven . Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Cut into slices and serve hot.
Sicilian Pizza Recipe
For the dough
- 3 cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Active Dry Yeast
- 1 cup Water
For the topping
- 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Garlic (Minced )
- 1/4 cup Pizza Sauce
- 1/2 cup Mushroom (Sliced)
- 1/2 cup Chicken (Boiled and Shredded)
- 1/2 cup Green Bell Pepper (Sliced)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan (Grated)
- 1/4 cup Breadcrumbs
- 300 g Fresh Mozzarella (Sliced)
- Salt & Pepper
- 8-10 Basil Leaves
For the pizza dough
- Add all the ingredients in the bowl of the stand mixer.
- Mix until combined.
- Knead the dough on medium speed for 3-4 minutes.
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and keep in a warm place for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.
Assembling the pizza
- Pre heat the oven to 500 Degrees F (260 Degrees C)
- Mix minced garlic with olive oil.
- Brush a 9x13 inch baking sheet with olive oil generously.
- Transfer the pizza dough on the baking sheet.
- Stretch the dough onto the baking sheet evenly.
- Drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil mixed with minced garlic all over the dough and brush it all over.
- Cover the baking sheet and keep it aside for the dough to rise for 30 minutes.
- Remove the cover and top the dough with pizza sauce.
- Top with mushroom, chicken, bell pepper, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, mozzarella, salt and pepper.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
- Remove the tray from the oven .
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves.
- Cut into slices and serve hot.