The word sfincione derives from the Latin spongia – sponge – or from the Arabic “sfang” – pancake – referring to the porous mixture with the texture, precisely, spongy; his pasta, halfway between bread and pizza, leavened with art, gives the characteristic identity to the crumb, soft and high. Seasoned with salted sardines, onion, cheese and oil, it is a Bagheria traditional dish; Palermo version – perhaps most famous – the basic ingredient added in is the tomato sauce.
Almost impossible to get away from Palermo and its surroundings, it is said that original sfincione, handmade just as once, is the one of the hawkers near Porta Sant’Agata; just follow the cries of the vendors, amplified or not, to find the exact point – among the many slogans to lure customers, “Who cciàvuru! Càvuru, càvuru! ” or ” That smell! Hot, hot “or the more bizarre” Scaisi r’uagghiu and chin’i pruvulazzu “which translated means” Poor oil and full of dust”.
Compared to classic sfincione – like the one proposed also from the Ancient Focacceria San Francesco in Palermo – that homemade is little less crisp, but you are free to abound with the seasoning to your liking: just anchovies, tomato, onions, cheese, breadcrumbs and oregano – as suggested by the cookbook “the treasures of Sicilian Cooking” by L. Frusteri, Fraterrigo S., A. and P. Salerno Allotta – to bring to the table a little ‘real Sicilian atmosphere.
Ingredients for Palermo sfincione:
• 800 g flour
• 25 g yeast
• 2 onions
• 500 g peeled tomatoes
• 100 g fresh cheese slices
• 100 g fillets of salted sardines (or anchovy)
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Salt and pepper
Mix the flour with the yeast dissolved in a little warm water. Knead the dough vigorously, incorporating other salted water, until the dough is very soft.
Transfer the mixture into a floured bowl and let rise, covered with a cloth, for 2 hours. Meanwhile, sauté the onions, finely sliced, in a pan with a little oil and a few tablespoons of water. Add the tomatoes, mashed with a fork, a pinch of salt and a sprinkling of pepper and cook on medium heat for about twenty minutes. Roll out the dough to a thickness of a few centimeters, in an oiled baking pan and sprinkle the surface with desalted chopped anchovies.
Cover with slices of cheese and sprinkle over the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and oregano; bake the sfincione at 220 celsius and cook for about twenty minutes.
Ingredients for a pan of 30 cm diameter
for the dough:
• 00 flour: 250 gr.
• wheat flour or semolina: 250 gr.
• yeast: 25 g.
• Salt: 12 gr.
• Oil: 2 tablespoons
• Water: 300 ml. about
for the sauce:
• white onions 2 large
• primosale or cottage cheese: 300 gr.
• salted sardines (or anchovies)
• olive oil
• grated cheese
• fresh bread crumbs
Process for preparing sfincione bagherese
First prepare the dough will rise for 1 hour and a half. Mix the two flours, one 00 and the of semolina, make a hole in the center and add the yeast with a little water and two tablespoons of oil. Begin to mix the yeast with flour and meanwhile start adding water. You will get a soft dough.
Now add the salt, then put the dough on a work surface and knead for a few minutes with your hands. When the dough is smooth and homogeneous place it in a bowl greased with oil and cover the dough with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in volume.
Meanwhile, prepare the onions. Clean and slice the white onions and put them to fry over low heat in a large skillet where you have spilled enough oil to cover the bottom. The onions should fry gently over low heat with the lid. When the onions are tender (about 10 minutes), add the desalted anchovies (about a dozen) and allow to melt together with onions.
At this point, remove the onions from the pan and in the same oil toasted fresh bread crumbs until it is lightly browned.
When the dough has doubled in volume, grease a baking sheet and put in the dough, spreading it with your fingers.
Add the other desalted anchovies into small pieces and primosale into thick slices 1/2 cm. Cover the cheese with onions distributing them evenly over the entire surface then cover with grated cheese, freshly ground black pepper, a handful of oregano and finally with fresh toasted breadcrumbs.
Pour a little oil on the surface then bake it in a preheated oven at 220 C for 30-40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool few minutes before serving.