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Monday, 25 April 2016

Baking Sicilian Sfincione, Using Sourdough to Add Flavour

We have been baking a lot of products where we used our sourdough starter as a raising agent. In today's blog it will give slight rise to our dough, but mostly, we will be using it to add flavour to the dough. We bake a Sicilian Sfincione, which is Sicily's version of Italian Pizza.

Start by mixing all of the dry ingredients together: 6 cups (1,5 L White Bread Flour), 4 teaspoons (20 ml) salt, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) sugar.

Add 4 tablespoons (50 ml) olive oil.

Add 2 cups (500 ml) sourdough starter.

Add 1,5 cups (375 ml) lukewarm water.

Mix to bring the dough together. (I once again had a kitchen full of little helpers at hand).

Add more water if needed to bring the dough together. Rather add more water later, than to add too much to start with and end up with a soggy dough mixture.

Once the dough has come together, you can start kneading it. Halfway through the kneading process it will look like this.

Once it is properly kneaded, it will look like a proper elastic ball.

Put the dough in a clean bowl. Cover with plastic and allow to rise in a warm dry place. This is important as the sourdough will continue to develop during this time, spreading it's lovely flavour throughout the whole mixture.

I pinched off some small pieces for the kids to play with and they now each formed their initials from the dough and it was also set aside to rise.

Once the dough has risen (2-3 hours later, depending on temperatures), it is ready to be knocked back.

Knead the dough well to make sure that the sourdough cultivars are evenly spread throughout the mixture.

Divide the dough into two balls. Prepare two large baking pans with non-stick spray and dust with flour. Spread the dough over the two pans. You may also want to make round Sfinciones, which is more traditional. Bake the dough in a preheated oven at 200°C for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, you can start preparing your toppings. I would make a very plain Sfincione with cheese and tomato only, and one that had a bit of bite to it. For the one with bite, I chopped some fresh herbs from the garden; sweet basil, Italian parsley and a tiny bit of thyme.

I also picked some fresh peppers and a Jalapeno that was ripe.

I would add some crushed garlic and dried oregano (mine was too thinned out and needed time to grow back).

I would use a pizza paste and some frozen chopped onions I had at hand (very handy when you're entertaining a kitchen full of kids!).

I would also add grated cheese. I recommend using mozzarella, or a mozzarella and cheddar blend.

After the ten minutes are up, your base is half-baked. I noticed that I had forgotten to prick the base with a fork to prevent it from bubbling up. Do not make the same mistake I did! You can now start adding your toppings.

The kids' gets only the pizza paste and cheese. It then goes back into the oven for another 15 minutes, but I turn the heat up to 220°C.

The adult version gets the works and also goes back for another 15 minutes at the higher temperature.

Slice as soon as it comes out of the oven and get ready to dive in!

The kids all had their own idea on how the pizza should be cut and insisted on doing it themselves. Hold a guiding hand over theirs as the knife is very sharp and can easily run away from them.

The adult version had a bit of bite, but it went down beautifully. What makes this pizza so special really is the flavour in the dough that makes it easy to add any topping and still get sterling results.

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