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My grandfather, Russell, has been a hard individual to find information on. He and my grandmother, Annette, wed in 1952, the same year his father (Paul) died. Together, they had six children, including my father (John). For most of my grandfather’s young life, he lived on the West Side of Buffalo- 4th, 7th, and 19th streets. He applied for and probably opened a few pizzerias in his life. Though, there is one in particular that he is most known for and its location was on Delaware Ave., the current home of Frank’s Sunny Italy. Originally named ‘Brothers 3 Pizzeria’ for the three sons still living in the house, not including my father (my father was in the army at the time). It was a Buffalo hang out and attracted everyone in the neighborhood, rumor has it, including young Johnny Rzeznik from the Goo Goo Dolls. My grandfather passed away in 1977 at age 43 (two years after his mother, Stella).
If it’s one thing I know about my grandfather, it’s that he appreciated a good slice. I decided to hunt down an authentic Sicilian pizza recipe. A REAL authentic Sicilian pizza recipe because Sicilian pizza isn’t really pizza at all. As I found out, Sfincione is somewhat of a tomato pie with a thick bread crust and a thick layer of a sauce/breadcrumb mix on top of it.
If you land in Palermo, you have to know where to look for Sfincione. Usually, you can find it at a street food vendor, but you won’t find it in a pizzeria. This guy searched several pizzerias in Palermo for Sfincione, only to find it in the bakeries. This is because real Sfincione isn’t considered ‘pizza’ in Palermo. The bread is topped with a thick mix of sauce, onion, breadcrumbs, anchovies or sardines, olive oil, and grated hard cheese. The recipe you choose to follow determines the order of ingredients added to the pie, dough rise time, and cook time. In the end, Sfincione really looks like tomato pie.
I researched different Sfincione recipes for over a week, finally settling on a combination of recipes from two sources. The first can be found in Coming Home to Sicily: Seasonal Harvests and Cooking from Case Vecchie, a beautiful cookbook by the owner of Case Vecchie, the most notable cooking school in Sicily. The second is featured in Sicilian way: Street food at Home, an ebook written by a Sicilian. There are slight variations in these recipes in ingredients, rising time, and cooking time. I also had to adjust based on the ingredients I chose. I used Bob’s Red Mill Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour, which made the pie really dense. If you’d like, try a white all-purpose flour in place of the whole wheat flour that I used. I used Bob’s Red Mill Semolina Flour and Chef’s Pasta Sauce, a local favorite. The result was a dense bread, topped with a thick, salty tomato sauce.
References:
Print Recipe
Sfincione
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Sicilian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Passive Time 2.5 hours
Servings
4 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups stone ground whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
  • 1/3 cup semolina flour
  • 1 packet (tbsp) fresh yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil plus more for pan
  • 1 onion thinly sliced and blanched
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 6 oil-packed sardines or anchovies chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano dried
  • 1 cup water warm
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Sicilian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Passive Time 2.5 hours
Servings
4 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups stone ground whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
  • 1/3 cup semolina flour
  • 1 packet (tbsp) fresh yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil plus more for pan
  • 1 onion thinly sliced and blanched
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 6 oil-packed sardines or anchovies chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano dried
  • 1 cup water warm
Instructions
  1. Mix flours, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Pour a little bit of water into the mix at a time and knead the mix with your palms or fists.
  3. Add in the olive oil and continue to knead for 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Oil a 9-inch pan or oven-safe dish with some olive oil. Place the dough ball in the middle of a pan or dish. Let the dough rise for 2 hours. It will double in size.
  5. When the 2 hours are up, blanch the onions, if you haven't already. This involves boiling the onion slices for 3 minutes and then quickly putting them in an ice bath.
  6. In a bowl, mix blanched onions, tomato sauce, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, sardines or anchovies, and oregano.
  7. Stretch the dough to the sides of the pan.
  8. Put the mix on top of the dough and let rise for another half hour.
  9. In the meantime, heat the oven to 350.
  10. When the half hour is up, bake the Sfincione for 40 minutes.
  11. Let cool for 5 minutes and then slice into quarters, or smaller pieces. Top with more grated cheese if you wish.

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