As much as I wanted the holiday season not to end, I am happy that it is 2013! Looking forward to this new year and all that it brings. We had a nice, laid-back New Year’s Eve celebration that included our tradition of watching a Planet of the Apes (from the late 60’s and early 70’s) marathon , setting out 13 round fruits for a Filipino tradition, and of course eating good food. How did you celebrate New Years Eve and/or New Year’s Day?
For about three years now, I have been making sfincione, a Sicilian type of pizza eaten on New Year’s Eve to welcome the New Year. I am always fascinated about different types of pizza or flat-breads and sfincione is among my favorites. It’s like a pizza casserole with lots of toppings. Usually it is square, but I decided to make it a round pizza to go with the Filipino tradition of focusing on round things for the New Year. Shaped like a coin, round objects symbolize prosperity. Of course, this dish is good however it is shaped.
What is unique about this pizza is that it is layered and generous with the toppings. There’s a layer of cheese, anchovies, a tomato-onion sauce, parmesan and the seasoned bread crumbs. I love this combination. The crunch from the bread crumbs gives this pizza a textural element that’s out of this world. These photos were snapped in a hurry because we were hungry and couldn’t wait to start the movie marathon 😀
Sfincione is also a thick-crusted pizza, kind-of like focaccia, but I did a thinner crust this time. I thought I had a larger amount of dough that I had previously made and had frozen. If you make a thinner crust, you have to use less toppings.
Browning the onions for the sauce.
Here are the ingredients of the layers: mozzarella (use caciocavallo cheese instead if you can find it), provolone, chopped anchovies, tomato-onion sauce, and bread crumbs. The parmesan is not pictured.
After you have your dough shaped and ready for pizza assembly, you can brush it with some olive oil. I used the oil from the can of anchovies. This step is optional, but it gives a good flavor. Don’t worry, it won’t make your pizza greasy. I used a multi-grain pizza dough, though it looks pale in these pictures.
Layer on some anchovies. I used quite a bit of it since we like it. You can use less or none at all.
Then layer on the soft cheeses. You can grate them ahead of time if you wish.
Then top it with the tomato sauce and parmesan (I used pre-grated and not the premium kind this time, but at least I did not use the canned powdery variety).
Spread the bread crumbs evenly and bake! I used a pizza stone instead of a pan so I wouldn’t have to clean another pan that night 🙂
Out of the oven! Let it cool for a minute or so before digging in.
New Year’s Eve Pizza (Sicilian Sfincione)
Yields about 8-12 servings
Crust (you can use a basic pizza dough, this Sicilian-style recipe, or the following recipe. I used a multi-grain pizza dough)
- 12.75 ounces (3 cups) All-Purpose Flour
- 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 7 to 9 ounces lukewarm water
- Dash of olive oil
- semolina or cornmeal to help pizza from sticking
- 3 cups coarse dried bread crumbs, such as Panko (or make your own)
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Italian dried herb mix, separated
- Dash of olive oil + more for brushing on the crust
- 2 large onions, sliced or diced–you decide! (about 2.5 cups total)
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar or honey (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 28-ounce can chopped or diced tomatoes
- 8 anchovy filets, finely chopped
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 cups shredded or sliced caciocavallo cheese (mozzarella is fine too)
- 4 ounces provolone, chopped or shredded
- 3/4 to 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano or Pecorino
- Prepare the dough: Whisk together the all-purpose flour, salt and yeast. Mix in the olive oil and enough water to make a smooth, soft dough. You can use a stand-mixer, a bread machine, a wooden spoon, or your hands. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let ferment for 90 minutes until it is puffy. Alternatively, you can do this well in advance and let the dough ferment in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days.
- Prepare the bread crumbs: Mix bread crumbs, olive oil and 1 tablespoon Italian dried herb mix. Set aside.
- Prepare the sauce: Heat some oil on medium heat and add the onions. Cook until deep golden brown in color, about 20 minutes. Add sugar or honey to heighten the onion flavor. Make sure to stir frequently so they don’t burn. Mix in oregano, 1 teaspoon Italian dried herb mix, and red pepper flakes. Add the tomatoes & about 1-2 tablespoons of the anchovies. Stir to combine. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes until it has reduced a little. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. This can be done up to a week in advanced and stored in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container.
- Prepare the crust: Grease a rectangular baking sheet with olive oil. Sprinkle on some semolina or cornmeal (optional). Or, for a round pizza on the baking stone, take a sheet of parchment and spray some olive oil and sprinkle on semolina or cornmeal. After the first rise, gently scrape the dough out of the bowl and shape into a ball. Place it on the baking sheet and spread it into a rectangle or oval to fill the surface of the pan. If it springs back, let it rest for 15 minutes and then spread it. You may have to let it rest and resume shaping a couple of times. Do the same for the round shape on the parchment paper or use your favorite pizza-shaping method. I always hand-shape my pizza, never rolled out. I like hand-shaped pizza because I find the crust has a nice bread structure and is airy. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise for another 90 minutes. At about 30-40 minutes before the dough has finished rising, place a baking stone on the bottom oven shelf and preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
- Assemble: After the rise and while the oven is preheating, start assembling the pizza. Start by brushing some olive oil on the crust. You can use the oil from the anchovies. Then place the anchovies evenly throughout the crust. Layer on top the mozzarella and provolone. Then spread the tomato-onion sauce and sprinkle the grated Parmigiano or Pecorino. The top topping is the bread crumb mix. Spread it evenly.
- Bake: When the oven has finished preheating, place the pan on top of the baking stone. For the parchment-lined round pizza place it directly onto the baking stone. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until bread crumbs and crust are golden brown. Rotate the pizza half-way into the baking time. Let cool for a few minutes, remove gently from pan with large spatula, slice, and serve immediately.
Update! I forgot to add that while doing research on sfincione, I got some great insights and tips on this dish from sfincione expert Peter Bocchieri at his awesome Italian food blog cookingitaliancomfortfood. Check it out!
Happy New Year 2013!
Wishing my family, friends, and the blogosphere a year full of blessings, good times, good food, and prosperity!
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