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All Pizza is the Same…Right?

Make Your Own Pizza
Make Your Own Pizza
For many of us, the word “pizza” means a disk of floured crust, slathered with sauce, cheese, and a variety of different toppings, baked until warm and bubbly. Those who love traditional Italian pizza, however, are quick to point out that Sicilian pizza is altogether different.

Known as Sfincione, Sicilian pizza is distinct in many ways. The pizza itself is generally made into a large square and can be nestled snugly into a standard-sized pizza box. The dough of Sicilian pizza has 3 times the yeast as a typical American thin-crust pizza, half the flour and water, and requires two rises. The dough turns out to generally be about an inch thick, and is baked on top of a pizza pan rather than in a deep dish.

The crust of Sicilian pizza provides a foundation for pizza lovers to develop their own way to enjoy a Gourmet Sicilian pizza, both traditionally and stylistically.

Traditional Sicilian

“There’s a big difference between traditional Sicilian pizza and Sicilian-Style pizza,” said Brian Johnson, owner and proprietor of B.J. Willy’s Woodfired Pizza and Café, located in West Linn, Oregon.

First, there’s the crust. Traditional Sicilian pizza resembles focaccia, a thick Italian bread baked on a sheet in the shape of a rectangle.

“The herbs and what we know as toppings on American-style pizza are baked into the crust itself after being sautéed,” Brian added. Some of the toppings include onions, anchovies, and olives or tapenade. “If cheese is used at all, it should be caciocavallo or pecorino rather than mozzarella for a more robust flavor.”

After the crust has been coated in olive oil and rolled out, the sautéed onions should be pressed into the dough, along with pieces of anchovy and olive. Spread the cheese evenly across the top, and the pizza is ready to bake.

Sicilian-Style Pizza

Over time, Traditional Sicilian has evolved into what is known as Sicilian-Style pizza, especially popular on the East Coast. The crust is the same, but the toppings are vastly different in choice and presentation.

“Once the crust is pressed out and oiled,” Brian said, “herbs and toppings are still pressed into it like the Traditional Sicilian pizza. But instead of pecorino or caciocavallo, slices of mozzarella are laid on top of the square crust, then sauce is added on top of that.”

Top it off with breadcrumbs and romano or parmesan cheese, and serve warm and bubbly.

The Basic Recipe

Even if you don’t have a woodfired grill at your local pub, you can still enjoy the taste of Gourmet Sicilian pizza.

Sicilian Pizza Dough

  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 – 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (you’ll need more for coating the dough)

Stir the yeast, sugar, and water in a bowl. Let it rest for 10 minutes.

Mix the flour and salt in a separate bowl, making a well in the center. Add the ¼ cup olive oil to the yeast mixture and pour into the well, working the mixture into dough with a wooden spoon.

On a lightly floured board, knead the dough, adding a little flour as needed until it’s no longer sticky. Shape the dough into a ball. Put the dough into a bowl and coat lightly with olive oil. Cover dough with a dish towel and let stand in a warm place until doubles in size (about 1 hour).

Sicilian-Style Pizza Ingredients

  • 1 recipe basic pizza dough
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 peeled canned tomatoes, finely chopped
  • Salt and black pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pound caciocavallo or mozzarella cheese, cut into thin slices
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • 3 anchovies, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • plain bread crumbs

Sicilian-Style Pizza Directions

Saute the onion in the olive oil until soft.

  1. Add the tomatoes and sugar. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Remove the mixture from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Press the anchovies into the top of the dough, evenly along the surface. Layer the slices of cheese on top of the dough, one layer thick.
  3. Cover evenly with the cooled tomato sauce. Sprinkle with oregano, Romano cheese and a light layer of bread crumbs.
  4. Let your Sicilian pizza rise for 30 minutes while preheating your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. When the oven’s ready, bake your sfincione for 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges of the dough are golden brown and the top sizzles!
  5. Let it rest for 10 minutes and enjoy!

Kelly Wilson is a freelance writer and the author of Live Cheap and Free! Strategies to Thrive in Tough Economic Times. You can read more about using coupons to save money at www.wilsonwrites.com.


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