Sfincione

Sfincione is loosely translated into sponge…which is exactly what it does when soaking up the delicious topping ingredients.

The original Sicilian version uses a thick and spongy dough – similar in many respects to focaccia. It is traditionally topped with a zesty tomato sauce, tons of dried oregano, breadcrumbs and often some grated Sicilian caciocavallo cheese. Some Palermo bakers also like to include a bit of dried anchovies to lend a certain saltiness to the bread.

This square thick pizza bread eventually made it’s way to New York, where it was turned into the classic New York-style pizza – a thick spongy base, baked square and topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella.

Our vegan version is made with a delicious zesty tomato sauce, chopped capers, a bit of nutritional yeast, tons of dried oregano and breadcrumbs, which give this bread a nice crunchy top! We also elected to use our focaccia bread dough instead of the more traditional pizza dough – an improvement in my opinion!

Yield: Makes about 6-8 servings

  • 500 grams (1 pound) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 7 grams (1/4 teaspoon or 1/4 ounce) instant yeast
  • 25 grams (2 1/2 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
  • 3oo ml (1 1/4 cups) water
  • 10 grams (2 teaspoons) sea salt
  • 500 ml. (2 cups) pizza sauce
  • 4 tablespoons salt-cured capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 40 grams (1/2-cup) nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 40 grams (1/2-cup) dried breadcrumbs
  • extra virgin olive oil to top the bread
  • Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, instant yeast, extra virgin olive oil and the water. Knead on low speed for about 2 minutes to combine the ingredients, then add the salt to the mixture. Continue to knead the dough for 7 minutes. The dough should be soft, smooth and very elastic.
  • Coat the dough lightly with olive oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise for about 2 hours. When the dough is ready (about double in size, and when lightly poked a slight indentation remains), punch it down and knead slightly.
  • Stretch and roll out the dough on a lightly oiled baking sheet until about 2-cm (1-inch) thick. I like to use a baking tray that is roughly 18-cm X 30-cm (9 X 15-inches)
  • Cover the dough with a large garbage sack and let it rise for 60-90 minutes. The dough should spread to cover most of the pan.
  • Preheat the oven to 210°C (410°F)
  • Carefully spread a generous layer of the pizza sauce to within 1-cm (1/2-inch) of the edges of the dough. Be extra gentle and take care to avoid deflating the dough (you may not need to use all the sauce). Add the nutritional yeast and oregano to the pizza sauce, then top with the breadcrumbs. Give the bread a good topping of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes – or until the top is bubbly and the bottom is slightly crispy (check this by gently lifting with a spatula and taking a peak).
  • Cool for about 10-15 minutes, then enjoy hot, warm or even at room temperature. Don’t refrigerate any leftovers – just cover with a towel and eat within a day or so.

Jack’s Fresh Tip

You can easily make your own breadcrumbs by cutting a loaf of Italian-style bread into 1/2-inch slices. Preheat your oven to 150°C (350°F). Spread the bread slices on a baking sheet and bake until completely dry – this will take about 20-25 minutes. Put all the bread into your blender or food processor and process until rough and crumbly (process longer if you want a finer consistency). Keep breadcrumbs in a stored container for 3-5 days or freeze them for up to one year.

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