Sfinciuni, cudduruni, scacciate, ‘nfriulati, imbriulati, pitoni.

Various type of rustic pizza made with a bread dough base, onions, tomatoes, anchovies, caciocavallo, cooked vegetables and mixed cold cuts. The shape and ingredients vary from area to area, but they all have one thing in common: they are exquisite…

This peasant food likely originated from a need to prepare dry, long-lasting products to nourish those working all day long in fields far away from home. Breads that envelop and protect nutritious animal and plant proteins that provide energy for hard work.

U sfinciuni– Palermitan and Bagherese.

The name sfinciuni, which becomes Sfincione in Italian, derives from the Latin spongia i.e. “sponge”, due to the slightly spongy consistency of its dough. It is argued, however, that it derives from the Arabic word “sfang“, for a pancake that is sweetened with honey.

Sfincione is a pizza bread (soft and leavened, resembling a sponge), topped with tomato sauce, onion, and chunks of caciocavallo cheese.

Ingredients (for the dough):

  • 400 g of remilled flour
  • 100 g of ’00’ flour
  • 1 sachet of dried brewer’s yeast
  • approx. 300 ml of lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • approx. 10 g of salt

For the topping:
For the Sfincione di Bagheria:

  • 200 g of primosale cheese (only for the Bagherese version)
  • 200 g of ricotta (only for the Bagherese version)
  • Tomato sauce or tomato pulp (Palermitan version)
  • 4 large onions
  • salted sardines
  • day-old bread, crust removed and crumbled
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oregano
  • diced caciocavallo cheese (grated for the Bagherese version)


Put the flour, the sugar and the yeast in a terrine and work into a dough, adding the water a little at a time. The 300 ml of water are purely indicative. The amount needed depends on the moisture content of the flour and sometimes more may be needed. It should be reminded that the dough must be soft, so soft that it almost requires to be beaten by hand rather kneading as you would do with bread. Salt should only be added at the end as it must never come into direct contact with the yeast. Cover the terrine with a dish cloth, wrap in a blanket and allow the dough to rise. The dough must double its volume. In the meantime, chop the onions and sauté in a little water. When the water reduces altogether, add a generous amount of oil and a couple of sardines and stew until a dry sauce is obtained.

sfincione di Bagheria - ph. Fabio Cavasenna

sfincione di Bagheria – ph. Fabio Cavasenna

For the Bagherese version, season with salt and pepper, add the oregano and, when the sauce has cooled add a handful of grated caciocavallo cheese. Remove the onions from the pot/pan and toast the crumbed bread in the remaining oil. Cover the dough with slices of primosale cheese, then with slices of ricotta, cover with the onion mixture that has now cooled to room temperature, and finish off with the lightly toasted crumbed bread. Allow to leaven further until it reaches the edge of the tray. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200° C for approx. 30′-40′.

For the Palermitan version, on the other hand, add the tomato puree or pulp, season with salt and pepper and cook. When the dough has risen to double its original size, grease your hands well, place the dough in an oiled tray and create a layer approx. 1.5 cm thick. Place the chopped sardines on top, making sure they get into the dough for a bit. Generously top the dough with the caciocavollo cubes. Cover with the tomato sauce and onion mixture that has now cooled to room temperature and then leave to leaven. When the dough has almost reached the edge of the tray, bake in a preheated oven at 200° C for 30′-40′ ca. Halfway through cooking, dust the Sfincione with lightly toasted breadcrumbs and a drizzle of oil.


Like sfinciuni, this is bread dough with onions, anchovies, tomatoes, caciocavallo cheese, vegetables and various other ingredients depending on the customs of the various provinces. It can be open like a pizza, closed like a calzone or rolled like a strudel or a chiffon cake.
Ingredients for 4/6 people:
For the dough:

  • 1.5 kg of durum wheat flour
  • 30 g of yeast
  • water and salt

For the filling:

  • 2 kg of onions
  • 150 g of caciocavallo cheese
  • pitted black olives
  • anchovy fillets
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • tomato purée
  • salt.



Dissolve the yeast in a little lukewarm water. Put the flour in a mound on the work surface. Add the dissolved yeast. Add a little more water and knead until it reaches the consistency of a loaf of bread. Wrap the dough in a cloth and leave it to leaven for about an hour. Once leavened, roll out the dough.

Cut the onion into thin slices, arrange them in a pan with a little oil and water and cook for about one hour, while stirring. When dry, allow them to cool. If you have decided to make the closed version, only add the condiment to one half of the dough.
Place the dough on a baking tray and spread a little tomato puree over the top, add the onion, small chunks of caciocavallo cheese, the pitted black olives, the anchovies, a little tomato puree and a drizzle of oil. Fold the dough over or cover with another sheet of dough and secure the edges. Brush with a little oil, prick with a fork and then bake in a pre-heated oven at 250° for about 20 minutes. Cut into slices and serve.

‘Mbriulata di Caltanissetta, or ‘mmiscata dell’agrigentino

There are small variations in the name and in some of the ingredients of this delicious, must-try, easy to make stuffed pastry.

For the dough: 200 g of flour, 150 g of ’00’ flour, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 50 g of lard, 20 g of yeast, milk, salt and one egg white.
For the filling: 3 small potatoes, 300 g of minced pork or minced “frittuli” (greaves of pork), 1 small onion, 6 pitted black olives, 4 tablespoons of grated pecorino cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Combine the two types of flour, the olive oil, the yeast dissolved in a little lukewarm milk and a pinch of salt to make a rather stiff, well-kneaded dough, adding a little lukewarm water if needed. Allow the dough to leaven for half an hour. In the meantime, peel and chop the potatoes into chunks and fry in a small pan with a little oil and salt. Add a little salt and pepper to the meat and the mix. Create a layer of dough a few millimetres thick, cover with a little lard and top with potatoes, meat, sliced olives and finely chopped onion. Add a sprinkling of pecorino cheese, drizzle with olive oil then roll the dough around the filling and turn it over, so as to obtain a spiral, then brush the surface with the beaten egg white. Cook the “mbriulata” in a hot oven for approx. forty minutes. Leave to rest for ten minutes before serving.

This recipe was submitted by Proloco Milena