Gluten-Free Sfincione (Sicilian Pizza)

You’ll find a recipe for sfincione (or Sicilian pizza) in Tony Gemignani’s The Pizza Bible, and you’ll also read about it in one of the Inspector Montalbano novels. Sfincione has a thick, sponge-like crust, and is traditionally topped with tomato, onions, anchovies, and caciocavallo cheese. The crust resembles a focaccia, for reference, and I suppose the nearest American equivalent is the Chicago deep dish.

My wife always prefers the thinnest possible pizza crust, and so, normally, do I. But very occasionally, I like to mix it up, and now I’m making my own GF pizza on a Saturday night, I’ve got the opportunity to experiment while I make thin (wheat) crusts for the rest of the family.

Having been impressed with the results achieved with Caputo’s GF pizza flour last week, I was fairly confident that sfincione would work quite well. Here’s the base of my recipe. Note: start early, because the rise time is deliberately long. I started in the morning for a pizza I made in the evening. If you wanted, you could start making the dough 1 or two days before, using the fridge for the rise.

  • 300g Caputo gluten-free pizza flour
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 240 ml (+) of filtered water

I mixed the ingredients in a mixer with a beater rather than a dough hook, stopping at one point to scrape down the sides. I also added a couple of drops more water to soften the dough. As before, I’m working on a ratio of 80% water to flour here. I didn’t use lukewarm water, but as it was from the filter jug I keep in the kitchen it wasn’t necessarily as cold as straight from the tap.

I covered the dough and left it in a cool place for a couple of hours, until well risen.

I then tipped it directly into a very well oiled 20 cm square baking tin and pushed it flat until the dough filled the tin. I covered the tin and again left it for a couple of hours. There should be enough oil in the tin that when it cooks, the base of the crust fries in the oil and comes out as crunchy as a crouton.

When the dough had doubled in size, I heated the oven to 205°C and par-cooked the base for about 20 minutes. The crust needs to be a light golden brown.

When par-cooked, I left it out of the oven to cool. If you can remove it from the tin at this stage, you might. Any stickiness can be loosed by drizzling olive oil around the sides.

When I was ready for pizza, I used The Pizza Bible’s recipe for Sicilian pizza sauce*, spreading a couple of spoonfuls on the top. I then added mozzarella cheese, sliced red chilli peppers, pepperoni, and olives, and cooked in the oven (210°C) for about 15-20 minutes.

sicilian - 2

The results that emerged from the oven were excellent. The crust was a brilliant mixture of spongy and crunchy (the bottom few mm of the crust having fried in the oil), and the topping was delicious. This square pizza is enough for two, or one-and-some-lunches.

*A slightly more piquant no-cook sauce, which is a blend of ground tomatoes (I used passata rustica), tomato puree, hand-crushed tomatoes, oregano, salt, and crushed garlic.