Sfincione Bagheria Style  

Sfincione Bagherese 

 

In the province of Palermo, there are three popular types of sfincioni: Palermo Style, Saint Vito and Bagheria style. 

The most traditional sfincione is the one made in Bagheria. 

It is dressed simply with olive oil, anchovies, and fresh pecorino or primosale, which is a fresh cheese in a basket. What makes it different is that it does not have tomato and because of the special type of bread crumbs that are used. 

The bread crumbs are not made from dry bread but of the inside of a particular bread called pane for sfincione. This bread has to be purchased a few days ahead of time in order to be able to hand-break it into crumbs that, when mixed with grated pecorino, oregano, chopped scallions and  oil, give this delicious finger food an unusual look and a special taste. 


For all major holidays or family gatherings, my brother-in-law, Giovanni Zenone, being originally from Bagheria, felt compelled to make the sfincione Bagherese so he could brag about it and have a dissertation about the superior qualities of his sfincione compared to the one I had made,
Palermo style. 


I actually liked the sfincione he made very much but never gave him the satisfaction to state my opinion. Thinking back, I do not know why I antagonized him all the time, because we had a tacit respect for each other and, in fact, we exchanged advice and helped each other in distress. 

In making this recipe, I am following in detail the preparation and procedures that Giovanni used in making the Sfincione Bagherese. 

  

Serves 6 to 8 

 

Ingredients: 

For the Dough 

·        1 ½ lb flour (all-purpose, or mix ½ semolina and ½ all-purpose) 

·        1 cup flour for dusting 

·        1 cup warm water 

·        2 envelopes active dry yeast 

·        2 tablespoons oil 

·        1 teaspoon salt 

·        1 teaspoon sugar 

·        Baking pan (13 x 8) 

For the Condiment 

·        1 cup olive oil 

·        1 large onion, sliced 

·        4 anchovies 

·        6 oz Primosale cheese or fresh Pecorino cheese, sliced thin 

·        4 oz breadcrumbs made by hand from the inside of day old bread 

·        2 oz grated pecorino cheese 

·        2 scallions, chopped very fine 

·        Oregano 

·        Salt and pepper 

 

Sfincione Bagheria Style  

 

Preparation   

 

The Dough
Pour warm water into a bowl, stir in yeast, oil, sugar and salt. Add half of the flour and blend it in. Set the mixture aside in a warm place for 10 minutes.
 

Put remaining flour on a flat surface and form a well. Place the mixture in it. Start to blend the flour from the inside of the well and keep incorporating the flour. Add a little more water if it becomes too dry. Mixture should be soft and very malleable. Should it became too watery, add more flour. 

Using your hands, bring all the flour together to form a ball. Fold and press with the palm of your hands; if dough is sticky, add some more flour. When dough forms a single mass, set aside. Clean your hands and the working surface and discard scrapes. 


Dust the working surface with flour and knead dough by pushing it down firmly towards the center. Then turn dough 90 degrees and press down again. Keep kneading until dough is elastic and has a silky consistency. Knead for 10 minutes, or until gluten develops. 

Form a ball and cut across the top to facilitate the leavening process. Cover and let rest for 25 minutes in a warm place. 

Press and fold dough, place it in an oiled bowl and refrigerate for a few hours. 

 

The Condiment  
Sauté sliced onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until golden. Set aside.

Crush anchovies in a dish and mix with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Set aside. 

In a bowl, mix scallions with 4 tablespoons of oil and add salt and pepper to taste. 

 

The Assembly
When ready to make sfincione, dust the working surface with flour, place dough in the center and flatten it to about ½ inch in thickness using a rolling pin or by pressing it down.

Place dough in the oiled pan (13 x 9 x 2 inches). 

Set aside, covered, in warm place, until dough rises. About 20 minutes. 

Punch dough and stretch it if necessary. 

 

Sprinkle or use a brush to coat the surface of dough completely with oil-anchovy mixture. Cover with sliced cheese and top it with sautéed onions. In a large bowl, mix breadcrumbs, grated cheese, scallions and a pinch of oregano and spread it over the entire surface.

Drizzle sparingly with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until bottom crust is golden and crispy.