Sicilian Sfincione with Tapenade
by eat in my kitchen
Forget about thin and crisp, this pizza is thick and juicy! The Sicilian Sfincione is more like a focaccia, the dough is made with eggs and milk which gives it a bit of a sweet bread feeling. Its origin dates back to the late Baroque when the aristocratic Sicilian families liked to employ French chefs, the “Monzu” coming from the French Monsieur, some of them became famous Sicilian chefs. Here’s the beauty of culinary exchange between two cultures, they influence each other, they don’t confine each other but merge and evolve! If only cultural exchange was always so easy and well received!
In the beginning of the 18th century, these chefs started to influence Sicilian cuisine and left quite a few marks in the kitchen, also in the making of pizza. Eggs and milk, sometimes even butter, found their way into this famous dish and created completely different textures and tastes, like the popular Sfincione.
As there is already a French touch involved I thought I might as well continue working with it in the topping. I went for a rich Provençal tapenade made of lots of black olives, capers, anchovies, olive oil, brandy and lemon juice topped with thyme sprigs. It was great! This pizza is perfect for a picnic, as a starter or with a salad on the side. I love pizza, so much that I bake it every Sunday and this Sicilian variation is definitely a summer favourite!
Sfincione with Tapenade
For 4 Sfincione (15cm / 6″) you need
For the dough
plain flour 500g / 1 pound
dry yeast 1 package for 500g / 1 pound of flour
salt 1/2 teaspoon
organic egg 1
milk, lukewarm, 250ml / 8.5 ounces
Combine the flour with the yeast and salt, add the lukewarm milk and egg and mix with your dough hooks for a few minutes. Continue kneading and punching with your hands until you have an elastic dough ball and put it back in the bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let it rise in a 35°C / 95°F warm ( top / bottom heat, no fan!) oven for 45 minutes.
Divide the dough into 4, stretch into thick 15cm / 6″ disks on a floured surface and cover with a kitchen towel. Let them rise while you continue the preparation for the tapenade.
For the tapenade
black olives 200g / 7 ounces
anchovy, rinsed and dried, 2 fillet
olive oil 2 tablespoons plus more for sprinkling
brandy (or cognac) 2 tablespoons
freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 tablespoons
mustard 1 teaspoon
thyme 16 small sprigs for topping
Mix the ingredients for the tapenade in a blender and season with pepper to taste.
Set the oven to 250°C / 480°F, my oven has a special pizza setting but you can use top / bottom heat as well. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread a quarter of the tapenade on each pizza, put 4 thyme sprigs on top of each and bake for 6 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with olive oil immediately and serve warm or cold.