Sfincione, the king of Sicilian street food

Sfincione, the soft and tasty treat

Sfincione is a typical product of the Sicilian tradition and gastronomy. It was inserted in the Italian traditional agribusiness products list (P.A.T. is the Italian abbreviation). Sfincione is the symbol of Palermo street food culture. All bakeries, pizzerias, rotisseries, and street food stands sell it. It’s an irresistible typical focaccia that includes the main ingredients of Sicily: tomato sauce, anchovies and caciocavallo cheese.


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Un post condiviso da Federica Buccoli (@missmambokitchen)


The tradition says that Sfincione was created for the first time by some nuns of San Vito’s monastery in Palermo. It was born as a dish to present during festivity as an alternative to classic bread. The idea was to combine bread with some of the typical seasonings of rural cuisine. In the Sicilian tradition, Sfincione was only prepared at home on Christmas’ Eve or for an engagement party. It is said that its name comes from a Sicilian dialectal term “sfincia” which means soft.


As a traditional recipe, Sfincione has a lot of regional variants. The most famous is the White Sfincione from Bagheria. It involves adding Tuma (a typical fresh cheese) or ricotta and breadcrumbs instead of tomato sauce. Other variations are the Sfincione from Casteldaccia which is very similar to the Palermitan one but with the add of Tuma on tomato sauce, Sfincione from Altavilla Milicia with the addition of breadcrumbs and pecorino cheese, and Sfincione from San Vito, a very rich and ancient dish, once prepared by the nuns of the Palermo convent of San Vito. It is a very complex recipe which includes minced meat, spicy salami, onion and tomato sauce.

The traditional recipe


  • 150 g plain flour
  • 150 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon of dry yeast
  • 1 pinch of sugar


  • 100 g plain flour
  • 200 g durum wheat semolina
  • 200 ml water
  • 2 spoon of oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt


  • 3 onions
  • 500 ml tomato sauce
  • oil
  • 4 anchovies
  • salt and pepper


  • 6 anchovies
  • 200 gr caciocavallo cheese
  • grated caciocavallo cheese
  • breadcrumbs
  • oregano

Let’s start preparing the Poolish, which is a pre-dough that will be added to the actual dough to make the Sfincione very soft. In a bowl mix the flour, dry yeast, sugar, and water until a sticky dough is obtained. Cover with a plastic film and leave to rise for about 2 hours. After this time, the Poolish should have doubled in size and should have many bubbles on the surface.

In a bowl pour the two different types of flour for the dough, water, oil and the Poolish. If you want you can use the mixer or you can just knead with your hands. When you have obtained the right texture and add salt. You will get a sticky dough, knead it until it becomes smooth. Give it a round shape and place it in a bowl greased with olive oil. Cover the bowl with plastic film and leave the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled (about 4 hours).

Let’s prepare the seasoning. In a pot put the oil and the chopped onions. Add salt and let cook them on a medium flame. When the onions are ready, add the anchovy fillets. Add the tomato sauce (to be diluted with 500 ml water), salt, and cook over medium heat. The onion sauce should cook for about 30 minutes.

When the dough will have risen, grease a baking tray with oil. Pour the dough into the baking tin and roll it out gently with oiled fingers. Leave the dough to rise for another hour in the tin. Season the Sfincione with the chopped anchovy fillets, add chopped caciocavallo cheese and add the onions sauce above. Finish by covering the Sfincione with grated caciocavallo cheese, breadcrumbs, and oregano and leave to rise for a further hour.

Cook the Sfincione in the lower floor of the oven (preheated 250°) for 10 minutes. Check the cooking by lifting it with a spatula. If it is golden brown and crispy, move the tray to the middle shelf of the oven and continue cooking for another 10 minutes or so. Sfincione will be ready when a very light crust will have formed on the surface. Remove the Sfincione from the oven and let it cool down. Enjoy this amazing Palermitano Sfincione!


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Un post condiviso da Tonia Semeraro (@tonia.seme)

Rino Porrovecchio from Palermo, Italy, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons