Felice Anno Nuovo! Pizza Sfincione to greet the new year.

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What? ANOTHER pizza recipe?!

Hey, pizza is like chocolate layer cake, Chinese food, and macaroni and cheese: you can eat it your whole life, and somehow never get tired of it.

Still, variations on the theme are always welcome. And Pizza Sfincioni, with its thick layer of crunchy bread crumbs on top, is unusual indeed.

Alternately called Palermo Christmas pizza; Sfincione di San Giovanni; or just plain Sfincione, this thick, soft, Sicilian-style pizza is traditionally served on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, Good Friday, and  on the feast of San Giovanni, June 24.

But heck, it’s so tasty there’s no way it can be limited to just 4 days a year. Street vendors and bakeries in Siciliy sell it year-round: hot in winter, at room temperature during the warm months.

Sfincione (loosely translated as “thick sponge”) refers to the pizza crust’s height and texture. More soft focaccia than traditional chewy crust, it holds successive layers of cheese, tomato, onion, more cheese, and bread crumbs.

Think comfort-food pizza. Soft, tender, comfortingly (rather than challengingly) flavorful. Something you might cut up into tiny squares and set on the baby’s high-chair tray. But still PIZZA: tasty and compelling enough for anyone to enjoy.

December 31 is fast approaching. Let’s bake a New Year’s Eve pizza: Pizza Sfincione.

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Well my goodness, here’s that Pizza Dough Flavor again. it just keeps popping up everywhere, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s because it’s just so darned tasty.

AJ, one of the regular readers here, recently asked how many pizzas you could make from one bag of Pizza Dough Flavor. Well, there are about 19 tablespoons in the 4-ounce bag we sell; and I use about 4 teaspoons in a typical pizza recipe, so if my math serves me, that’s about 14 large pizzas. About 57¢ per pizza.

Worth it? You be the judge. I’m betting once you taste it, you’ll say YOU BETCHA.

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As usual, we’ll start with the crust. After all, you can’t have a truly great pizza without a good crust, right?

Combine the following in a bowl, or the bucket of your bread machine:

3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
4 teaspoons Pizza Dough Flavor, optional but delicious
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons to 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (7 to 9 ounces) lukewarm water

Why the range in water amount? Because flour is like a sponge; it soaks up water from the atmosphere when it’s warm/humid out, and dries out when it’s cold/arid. This time of year, you’ll probably want to use the greater amount. Unless you’re someplace warm and humid, in which case – more power to you, it’s 16°F here in Vermont!

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Combine all of the ingredients and mix and knead to make a fairly soft dough, using a stand mixer, bread machine, or your hands.

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Notice this dough isn’t completely and utterly smooth; that’s OK. It’s very supple, which is what counts.

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Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or large 8-cup measure (or leave it in the bread machine), and let it rise till it’s very puffy, about 90 minutes.

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While the dough is rising, prepare the toppings. Start by peeling and slicing the onions. I’m using two big fat sweet onions here, about 1 pound each.

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Fry the onions in enough olive oil so they don’t stick, stirring frequently.

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Fry till they’re golden brown. This will take about 20 minutes. Midway through, add salt and sugar to taste, if desired; about 1 tablespoon sugar will heighten their flavor.

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Next, ready your tomatoes. A 28-ounce can (more or less) is what you want. I tried both of these – imported Italian in an aseptic container, and canned store-brand.

The imported Italian tasted fresher, and were in nicer dice; and they didn’t cost much more, either – just $1.99 for a 26.4-ounce carton, compared to $1.25 for the store brand. Quite reasonable for the quality, I thought.

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Add the undrained tomatoes to the fried onions, along with 2 teaspoons Pizza Seasoning, if desired. Simmer and stir for a couple of minutes. If the sauce seems overly liquid, continue to cook till it’s firmed up a bit. You don’t want it totally dry, like scrambled eggs, but neither do you want it swimming in liquid. Use your judgment.

Turn off the heat, and let the mixture cool while the dough rises.

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Here we are, 90 minutes later. Nicely doubled.

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Next, prepare your pan. A rectangular 18” x 13” half-sheet pan is traditional, but use a 14” round pan if you like. Spray with non-stick vegetable oil spray

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…and drizzle with olive oil, tilting the pan so the oil spreads out a bit. The spray is to prevent sticking; the olive oil, for flavor and crunchy texture.

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Gently deflate the risen dough, and stretch it into an oval in your hands. Plop the oval onto the baking sheet.

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Press the dough towards the edges of the pan. When it starts to fight back, walk away for 15 minutes.

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When you return, you should be able to press it to the edges and nearly into the corners. If you can’t, give it another short rest, and try again. You want the dough to cover as much of the pan’s bottom as possible (without making yourself too crazy about it).

Cover the dough, and let it rise till puffy, about 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

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Next, ready your bread crumbs. I like to use Panko, those coarse, crisp Japanese-style crumbs. SO much nicer than the “sawdust in a can” you get at the supermarket. Homemade crumbs made from stale bread are good, too.

Stir together 3 cups coarse dried bread crumbs, such as Panko; 6 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 tablespoon Pizza Seasoning, or a mixture of your favorite dried herbs – basil, oregano, rosemary…

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Here we are, 90 minutes later. The dough isn’t a real high-riser, but it does become nicely pillowy.

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Mix together 2 cups shredded mozzarella, and 4 ounces shredded provolone cheese. That’s my combo of choice; use your own favorite, whatever you think goes well with onions and tomatoes.

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Here are the toppings, ready to do their thing: the tomato-onion mixture; bread crumbs; mixed cheeses and, in the center, 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese.

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OK, class, pay attention here. First, sprinkle on the mozzarella/provolone.

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Next, spread on the tomato/onion mixture. You’ll have enough to put a pretty thick layer on, completely covering the cheese.

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Next comes the shredded Parmesan…

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…and finally, the bread crumbs.

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Here we are, topped and ready to roll. Uh, bake.

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Is your oven at 425°F? Load the pizza onto a middle rack.

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Bake for 35 minutes, or until the crust and crumbs are brown.

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Bottom crust, too.

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Serve hot or warm.

Hint: to prevent a soggy bottom crust, cut the pizza in half crosswise, then lift each half onto a cooling rack. Cut individual slices with a pair of scissors.

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I neglected to move the pizza to a rack, and the bottom crust was a bit soggy. Do as I say, not as I do!

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See that melting mozzarella and provolone peeking out?

This is an unusual pizza due to its soft texture. It’s not particularly chewy, not particularly crusty (though the bottom of the crust, if you remove it from the pan while it’s hot, will have some nice crunch).

Think of Sfincione not as lusty, but comforting; a balm to your culinary soul, after Thanksgiving-to-New Year’s moveable feast.

Speaking of – Happy New Year, one and all. May your yeast dough, your fortune, and your happiness all double in 2010!

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for New Year’s Eve Pizza.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. JoeFish

    Great recipe. Try caciocavallo cheese, if you can find it. But PJ, where are the anchovies??

    And by the way, we just say “Buon’Anno.”

    Thanks for your fantastic blogging, always.

    I know, Joe, I know… I figure most people don’t like anchovies, and most people can’t find the caciocavallo cheese, so I simplified. And my Italian (despite having been part of my husband’s Italian family for 33 years) is VERY poor, so thanks for the correction! Cheers – PJH

    Reply
  2. Donna

    Hey PJ,
    Sitting here at 10:45PM reading recipes and you have done it again. Pizza!!! One of my favorite things, behind bacon cheeseburgers.

    Had a thought while I was reading about the tomatoes – Fire roasted tomatoes. Maybe a handful of mushrooms, some chilies. I was thinking this would give a nice depth in flavor with a little spice.

    Happy New Year to you, the rest of the KAF crew, all of your families and friends.

    Donna

    Reply
  3. linda

    this sounds delicious & pretty easy… will give this a try. ..& the scissors cut is great…you always teach me something!

    fyi: baked the double shot mocha chunk cookies & brought to friends on xmas day…wow…these babies went over big time….everyone LOVED them! & the nicest compliments (which i then handed over to you pjh!! i gave everyone the bakers banter blog & kaf site)…so thanks for making me a rock star!

    sista to sista: good health, positive energy & looking forward to a great 2010 w/u fueling us with your great recipes!! happy new year!!!

    Reply
  4. Lish

    I think my babies would love this pizza, they love onions. And a soft crust sounds great for the teething one. And I am so tired of just plain leftovers from the holidays this would be a very welcome change. The best part is I have everything for it! The topping sounds similar to the topping on the macaroni and cheese in the last catalogue, which we have made and thoroughly enjoyed several times. Never thought to put bread crumbs on pizza, but sounds great. My favorite pizza, also nontraditional, is from a bakery in Framingham Massachusetts and their pizza is a soft pillowy crust, in sheet pans, and the sauce goes on top of the cheese, but it has just the barest hint of topping. If you are every near there go and get a few slices, it freezes great too!

    Reply
  5. Richard T

    Hi PJ,

    Thanks for another great post and recipe! Another one to try, for sure.

    I’ll have to share much of the “kudos” I received over the holiday season for many of the goodies I shared with neighbors, friends and family!

    You gals & guys there at KAF rock and should have a few new readers coming your way from Texas!

    I hope everyone there had a wonderful Christmas Holiday and best wishes for the New Year!

    Take care, y’all.

    Thanks, Richard – and Happy New Year to you, too! PJH

    Reply
  6. GiGi

    We just decided to stay in for NYE and enjoy the comfort of our own home instead of the craziness out somewhere – would rather be home with each other and our daughter (& canine son) anyway! Told hubby I would make some yummy snacks for our in house celebration. Happened to open up your blog and saw this! We think it will be prefect! Can’t wait to make it!

    Reply
  7. Tiffany McCullough

    Liked the pizza alot and would like to bake but can you give a heads up on which baking sheet pan will not warp in the oven at 425 deg. All and I mean ALL I’ve ever purchased warp some even at 350 deg.
    A brand name would help here. I refuse to bake anything in a sheet pan until I find one that doesn’t twist into a soft pretzel at medium to high heat. Your help will be greatly appreciated.

    Tiffany
    Hi Tiffany,
    Chicago Metallic and USA pans both make excellent, high quality pans. These are the ones we use in the test kitchen. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  8. Jen

    Is it possible to prepare the dough in advance? I would like to make this for New Year’s Eve, but I must work all day.
    HI Jen,
    Yes, you can make the dough in the morning before work and put it in the fridge to rise slowly. Take it out when you get home, and let it warm before stretching. OR you can make the dough the night before, and once it is in the pan, cover and refrigerate overnight. Have a safe and happy New Year! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. Ariana from Chicago

    Fantastic post! This Italian girl was happy to see one of our traditions featured. I was just talking to my Sicilian mother in law about sfincione the other night. There are many variations in Sicliy depending upon the region. Anchovies, as you acknowledged, are popular. Never knew about the breadcrumbs, though! Thanks for inspiring me to make this at home. Grazie!

    Reply
  10. jacquie

    that looks wonderful. perfect for a wintery night. however i have someone in my household that can’t eat onions. would you have another suggestion for veggies? perhaps mushrooms? or zuchinni? carrots? or a combinaton? (all well softened/browned) do you think any of those would work taste/texture wise?

    happy new year to you & all the bakers up there.
    HI Jacquie,
    The veggies can certainly be changed to your tastes, use the ones you and your family like best. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  11. Barb

    Hello all at KAF
    Love every thing you do, always looking for email from you guys, I know the
    recipes I try from you will always be good. Keep up the GOOD work, we get
    a good laugh in the process, thanks for the humor.
    A faithful King Arthur Flour user.
    Happy New Year, Happy Baking! ~ The KAF crew

    Reply
  12. Michelle

    I can testify to the oven stability of the Chicago Metallic 1/2 and 1/4 sheet pans. I had the same problem with all my sheet pans – including cookie sheets – warping at 375 degrees and above. I found the Chicago Metallic pans in sets of 2 half-sheet and 1 quarter-sheet at Costco two years ago and bought several. They are heavier, largely non-stick and totally satisfactory. Nice slightly higher rims on them, too – exactly what I want to make this (drool) recipe!
    A very Happy New Year to all!

    Reply
  13. Julia Jones

    A solution to less-than-crisp pizza bottoms: a non-stick skillet or frying pan on medium low. Put the pizza piece on it for 5 minutes, and crispness is restored. This is good for pizza that you brought home in a box (gets rid of the cardboard odor) or for pizza that was somehow left over from last night (2 minutes in the microwave will also get the toppings nice and hot).

    And thanks to everyone for making that wonderful Holiday Video! (My favorite part: “Enable Your Cookies.”)

    Reply
  14. Susan

    I’ve just been invited to a Rose Bowl Party on New Year’s day. I will take this pizza along as my contribution to the festivities. I know it’s not New Years Eve, but I figure it works any way. It sounds fantastic!!!

    Reply
  15. Joyce Bala

    I was looking for an appetizer to bring to our New Year’s Eve Dinner Party and this will be perfect!! I will cut it into bite size squares for serving and can’t imagine it tasting anything but YUMMMY!!!
    I am of Italian decent and it will have extra meaning when I tell them what it is and when it is used in Italy.
    Happy New Year to one and all!!

    Reply
  16. MR. "V"

    My father was a baker and he made this kind of pizza with regular bread crums and was good. Will try it with Panko and let you know.

    Reply
  17. Marion

    Is that on a pizza stone? Do you suggest that or is it just that you keep that stone in there all the time?
    Looks wonderful and I love the bread crumb idea. I made the no-knead pizza today (started yesterday, of course..) and cooked it on the big green egg – it was like a wood-fired pizza!
    Hi Marion,
    The pizza was not baked on a stone, just in the pan on the oven rack, but you could place the pan on a stone if you like. The white marble stone you can see in some of the photos is a favorite background of PJ’s, kept in a sunny window to give great natural light to her pictures. Happy Baking! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  18. Sue

    Whoever is looking for exceptional cookie type sheets – the enameled ones from Lehman’s are the best I have found and own… kinda pricey but worth every penny!

    Reply
  19. Mark

    I wanted to thank you for getting me to become a baker. I have been reading the post for a year and have delved in to the archives. The Sunday after Christmas I made three fruitcakes and a panettone (KAF recipes), a pizza rustica (old family recipe), and cream biscuits for breakfast. My mother (who never was a baker) asked if I had a bakery in my kitchen.
    Pizza is on tap for Sunday football.
    Good for you Mark! Baking for friends and family is so deeply satisfying, we are so happy to hear we can be a part of this for you. Happy Baking in 2010! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  20. Paulette

    Thanks for this recipe. A great New Year’s Eve treat. We love pizza and this looks just different enough so it will be exciting to try. I will be adding mushrooms and using less onion. My husband loves onions but they don’t like him much…LOL…. Bless you all for sharing such wonderful recipes with us..The pans I use I got at Sam’s and they are restaurant strength. They come in 2′s. Have the large ones and got one small one at Flagg’s Restaurant supply store here in Maine. Not as expensive as you would think and worth every penny.
    Wishing A Happy New Year to You and Yours!

    Reply
  21. cindy leigh

    looks great!
    I don’t have a pan that size, can I divide between two glass 9X13s?
    Reminds me of the thick sheet pizzas with a thick doughy crust and a thick layer of tangy sweet crushed tomatoes on top that we used to get in Providence. Give it a try.It should work. Remember to turn the oven down 25*F for the glass pans. Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  22. Carolyn

    The dough is on it’s first rise; tomato-onion sauce cooling; prosecco chilled. Almost time to start shredding cheeses. Die Fliedermaus will be on ‘the classical station’ a bit later. An Italian New Year’s Eve! Buon’anno to all the good folks in chilly Vermont!!
    From a transplanted New Englander in chilly (for us) North Carolina.

    PS: Gave the “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” to my niece’s family along with a big bag of goodies from my kitchen. The youngest (13) is the bread baker – he took one look and said “Cool!” I imagine he’ll be well into it before the weekend is out.

    Reply
  23. Margaret

    Hi!
    If you can not find “Panko” what we use to do is take some dried bread and put it in a blender or food processor to make the crumbs. I just tried this recipe today and it came out good!

    Reply
  24. Ricardo Goonzalez - Petrópolis, R.J. - BRAZIL

    Hi, PJ, How´s your 1st day of New Year?

    Here in Brazil we love pizzas!
    It´s because we have a great comunity of Italian settlers all over our region.
    So, pizza and it´s variations are always a ´must `here in Brazil.
    I´ll try this new variation and tell you about the results!
    I have a delicious recipe of Calabrese Bread, i´ll send to you!

    Reply
  25. Diana

    I did this pizza up after work last night. I was bad and didn’t let the dough rise for the whole 90 minutes, we were hungry. It still came out wonderful. I loved the crust (and honestly I’m more a Brooklyn style pizza girl) and the breadcrumbs added a nice second crunch. My son’s only compliant was the chunky tomatoes in the onion sauce and that can easily be remedied next time. This is a definite do again pizza. (Although I almost think I’d want to do it in 2 quarter sheet pans instead of the larger half sheet just so I get more crust.)

    Reply
  26. Angela

    I made this last night for a big get together at a friends house. Needless to say there wasn’t a crumb left. Thanks for another fun and successful recipe!

    Reply
  27. Kimberley

    Hey, PJ! I must comment – your writing style is so fun and enjoyable. You explain things very well, too. This pizza recipe looks like a winner! I don’t have any panko breadcrumbs, but I might just try making a white bread and making some crumbs myself. I make breadcrumbs out of leftover bread, but grind them pretty coarsely; for panko, would I just leave them a little craggier?

    Exactly, Kimberley – just leave them coarser, and make sure they’re nice and stale, or toasted. Thanks for you kind comments! PJH

    Reply
  28. Molly

    BUON anno nuovo to you, too! Thanks for your great recipes, advice, and process photos. I know how much work it is to do all of that plus the other things you do. I appreciate it all.

    Reply
  29. Susan in TX

    We just had this for New Year’s dinner, and
    my Italian husband was surprised and im-
    pressed. While it was cooking, he thought there
    was too much sauce, but the crumbs absorb the extra
    liquid. It’s different and delicious. The crust is
    phenominally good, and I look forward to using
    it with other toppings. Pete says the recipe
    would be delicious with some pepperoni.

    Reply
  30. Sherrie Roberts

    “Buon’Anno.” (taken from Joe Fish! above!) Well, I got ill Dec. 4th and have cooked nothing much since. I did cook some small potatoes and pasta with chicken and veggies. Not hard. Even though I still do not feel a 100% and even this little typing is hurting me up to the elbows. I wanted you to know that I made this pizza yesterday! check my website blog:www.quiltknit.blogspot.com
    I did not use the Panko crumbs and I had no canned tomatoes. I used the available resources.
    1. Onion- one White, one Red.
    2. Fresh large tomatoes.
    3. Olive Oil.
    4. Green Bell Pepper, Yellow Bell.
    5. Garlic-, Black Pepper
    6. Cream Cheese with chives
    7. Fresh Baby spinach and Baby Portobellos mushrooms
    8. King Arthur Flour and Yeast.
    9. Had a mixture of cheese pre-grated
    My dough was wonderful. Worked up with no problem. Good textured
    Hand spread it on the largest square pan I have, I then layered the Cream Cheese mixture over the Crust Bed. I then Sprinkled the Parmesan Cheese on Top, and layered even the Spinach Leaves. Using Tongs I layered the Onion, Bell Pepper , Mushroom and Tomato sauce. I thought it would be way too juicy. Then the topping of many Grated Cheeses.
    Ok, I change recipes. It was so good. My dough was yummy and filled the house. I did write this last night as it was cooking. Comcast went out and so that is the reason for delay. So, glad I made this Recipe.
    Sherrie Roberts

    Reply
  31. Sherrie Roberts

    I cooked this Pizza yesterday! Photos are posted to my blog. I hope you think my version is as tasty as yours. I did use the Pizza dough recipe. I do not have any of the Pizza flavoring. My Pizza dough taste like Pizza to me. I did add Bell Peppers and Portobello Mushrooms, used Red and White Onion. With White cheese sauce as I had no canned tomatoes. I layered the Cheese Sauce with Baby Spinach. No Bread Crumbs. I used various Cheeses Grated on Top.

    Reply
  32. Kathy Scott

    Just finished enjoying the pizza…suggestions for next time…no need to add the sugar, onions and tomatoes are sweet enough…I added a bit of anchovy to the onions at the end as the secret flavour ingredient.
    It was wonderful and my husband didnt even notice that there was no meat on this pizza! Way to go KA andPJH you guys make me a rock star in our home…my darling husband loved the solstice shortbread as well

    Reply
  33. Aine

    IMNSHO…one can never have too many variations on pizza recipes! I will definitely try this. I am a long time user of KAF and love everything I have every purchased from the company. I have made the no-knead baguette recipe twice now, and each time it’s been a huge hit. thanks!

    And thanks for using our flour – I know you’ll enjoy this pizza. Perfect for a cold winter day. PJH

    Reply
  34. Michelle & Marielle

    I hope everybody liked your food if we tasted we would say it would be a great taste.If we were a adult we would try it.

    Reply
  35. Matt

    Too many pizza recipes? Not possible. I just discovered the blog… having been a KA devotee for many years, it is great reading!

    This reminds me a bit of a pizza-like creation I’ve made a few times: Pissaladière. It’s a Provençal specialty with caramelized onions, anchovies and olives. A lot of recipes use a pastry crust, but that’s too rich for my taste. I make it with a French-bread style pizza crust, sometimes sourdough. The onions are wonderfully sweet and the anchovies are intensely salty and fishy. Not for everyone, but I love it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pissaladière

    Sounds like an exotic treat in the dead of winter. Thanks for sharing this mouth-watering pizza variation. Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  36. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez - Petrópolis, R.J. - Brazil

    I´d made this pizza today but it turns so puffy, maybe because i used a minor size pan. But the result was not so bad. For those who love thick pizzas in my case, the pizza was great!
    I´ll try a little thin next time, i prefer and love as thin as possible. The pizza goes on a crunchy texture!
    I used comercial bread crumbs imported from Asia!

    Made your cheese buns – WOW! Pao! Will blog mid-February… Thanks so much, Ricardo – PJH P.S. Panko bread crumbs? Japanese – that’s what we use, too. And the Sfincione is supposed to be soft and thick; the rough translation of “sfincione” is actually “sponge.” PJH

    Reply
  37. rhart

    Use the Quattro Fromaggio cheese from Trader Joe’s for this and all your pizza’s, a blend of Parmesean, Asiago, Fontina and Mild Provelone Cheeses. You won’t miss the mozzarella, but can put it on as well if you like.

    Reply
  38. shirlene

    To make soggy crust crispy again try heating a skillet , put piece of pizza in and warm to the crispness you like! Works for me.

    Reply

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