Palermo Christmas pizza or Sfincione di San Giovanni is a special occasion treat served on the feast of San Giovanni, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and Good Friday. Except in Palermo where it’s served all year around and from what I hear, is one of the most delicious street foods you can find there.
It’s unlike our traditional pizza with it’s thick, soft focaccia-style crust and mountain of bread crumbs covering the top. Two kinds of cheese are encased between: mozzarella and parmesan, along with a host of sweet, caramelized onions and a layer of thick tomato sauce.
I can’t vouch for the authenticity of this recipe. Thousands of miles span the gap between me and Sicily. I don’t have access to the same ingredients, like the cheese they might use called caciocavallo. And because I adapted this from King Arthur Flour, a company whose products and recipes I absolutely adore. But who are undoubtedly American in origin. But I do know this: eaten hot or cold straight from the fridge any hour of the day or night it is highly comforting and uniquely satisfying. Seeing as I don’t need a holiday to eat or make pizza. Of any kind.
1. Combine all of the crust ingredients and mix and knead to make a smooth, soft dough, using a stand mixer, bread machine, or your hands.
2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and allow it to rise until puffy about 90 minutes.
3. While the dough rises get your toppings ready. Fry the onions in a large skillet over medium heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil, sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Stir every five minutes until browned, about 25-30 minutes.
4. Add in the tomatoes, anchovies and a teaspoon of oregano, simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool.
5. Stir together the bread crumbs, oil and oregano, set aside.
6. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet (a 13″ x 18″ half sheet pan) with non-stick spray. Drizzle it with olive oil, tilting the pan so the oil spreads out a bit.
7. Gently deflate the risen dough, and stretch it into an oval in your hands. Put it on the baking sheet and gently knead and stretch it out to fit the pan. If you have a hard time stretching it leave it alone for five minutes and try again.
8. Cover the dough, and let it rise again for about 90 minutes.
9. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Uncover the dough and sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over top, then spread the tomato/onion sauce over top, sprinkle with Parmesan, then the bread crumbs.
10. Bake the pizza for 35 minutes, or until the crust and crumbs are brown. Remove from the oven and let set for 5 minutes before slicing. To keep the crust crispy cut pizza in half or in quarters and place on a wire cooling rack. Slices can be cut with kitchen shears. Serve hot or cold.
*Use the lesser amount in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate), and somewhere in between the rest of the year, or if your house is climate controlled.
I’m floored. And thrilled. Because I’ve made it to Round Seven in Project Food Blog! Happy dance. I can’t thank-you enough! Really. But I’ll try. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you! How’s that? xoxo
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