When American boys came home following World War II, they told tales of the square pizzas they found at bakeries in Sicily. Called sfincione, these were like no other pizzas, sitting high on a focaccia bread crust, lots of veggies, anchovies embedded in the crust, sheep’s milk cheese and a thin layer of bread crumbs baked on top. Somehow, this amazing sounding pizza took a distinctive American twist and the New York Style Sicilian Pizza was born. We’ll tackle a true sfincione another time, for now let’s focus on the New York Style Sicilian Pizza.
Pizza is a combination of art and science. Getting a good crust is pure science, so follow Elizabeth’s DIY Guide to Pizza Crusts. However, the toppings are like art… get as creative as you’d like.
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon bread flour
1 package dry yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
3/4 cup of warm water (not hot)
1 1/2 cups of your favorite sauce cooked ahead of time and reduced to one cup
1 pound thinly sliced fresh mozzarella (slices easier and thinner if it’s been placed in freezer for one hour before use)
2 tablespoons oregano
Place all dry ingredients in a food processor bowl and pulse for just a few seconds to mix thoroughly. Add water and olive oil and mix until a dough ball forms. Let it set for two minutes and then mix it a second time until the dough reforms into a ball. Remove dough from food processor and place it in a glass bowl that’s well coated with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for a minimum of two hours. Coat a rectangular shaped baking pan with olive oil and set aside. Remove dough from bowl and using your hangs, gently form it into a rectangle matching the size of that pan. Don’t use a rolling pin to flatten out the dough, as you don’t want to compact the crust. Place the dough in the baking and and don’t worry if there’s not enough dough to come up the sides. For best results, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another hour or more and that will give you the extra dough needed to form the sides of the crust. If your family is hungry, you can start adding toppings and bake but allowing it to rise a second time is worth the wait. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees before baking. When you finally dress the pizza, don’t put the sauce down first as you don’t want a soggy crust! First, arrange the thin slices of fresh mozzarella to cover the crust, then using a pastry brush, paint the top with sauce and sprinkle on the oregano. Don’t be a cheapskate with the oregano as it’s important to the flavor or the pizza. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until crust is golden brown. Allow pizza to rest for five minutes before cutting to allow the cheese to cool.