Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Babes Do An Italian Bake

This has been a very social week, probably because of my birthday...was treated to breakfast, lunch, and dinner by different neighbors on the actual birthday, plus have been taken out to lunch a few days before. Partly because of that, I'm posting last minute...but it's worth the wait.

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen is our fabulous Kitchen of the Month and she chose a layered bread from Italy, Sfincione Bagharese, for February. I made half the recipe given because we've already indulged quite a bit, so didn't need to be tempted by too much delicious freshly baked bread. I also left out all the cheese and added in some chopped walnuts to the bread crumb topping, plus used almond milk ricotta instead of the regular dairy based ricotta cheese. Having an extreme allergy to dairy can be a trial with this kind of recipe which uses a number of different cheeses. My bread probably tastes nothing like the real thing, but it's still a great bread. Sweetie had two pieces, I had one, and the rest went to a neighbor because, hello, we have had an indulgent weekend.

I made my dough fairly hydrated since it was going to go into a flat pan and didn't need to hold it's shape on its own. Even so, the crumb had small holes not large ones like you sometimes get with wet dough, but it is moist. I used all-purpose flour and bread flour and topped it with the onions, the ricotta and a bread crumb mixture that included Greek herb mix instead of oregano, plus chopped walnuts and a touch of olive oil since there is no cheese... the oil will helped the crumbs hold together and would have browned nicely if I had been watching. Instead, the top burned a bit, but still tasted great. It was a fragrant as well as delicious bread so I encourage you to make it. 

Do consider becoming a Buddy. Bake your version of this bread, then send Aparna the URL of your post, a brief description of the bake and a photo. She'll send you a badge and will post your bread in the round-up. Deadline to email Aparna is Feb. 28th.

Be sure to check out the breads baked by the other Bread Baking Babes, too. There are always inventive takes on our monthly bread challenge.


(Partly adapted from here and other sources on the net)


For the Poolish :

150 g plain flour

150 ml water

1 tsp dry active yeast

1/2 tsp sugar

For the Dough :

All the Poolish from above

150 gm all-purpose flour

250 gm semolina flour (I used bread flour)

300 ml water (more or less)

30 ml olive oil

15 gm salt

For the Onion Layer :

4 to 5 medium sized onions

20 to 30 ml olive oil

Salt to taste

For the Cheese Layer : I skipped most of this layer due to dairy allergies

10 to 12 anchovies in oil

300 gm Tuma or Primo Sale cheese, sliced

400 gm Ricotta, sliced

For the Breadcrumbs Layer :

Some chopped scallions (if you can find them)

4 to 6 slices of fresh bread

100 gm grated Caciocavallo cheese (left out)

Salt to taste

Red chilli flakes or crushed pepper to taste

1 tsp dried oregano


Also two very well oiled round 23cm trays



Make the Poolish by mixing together in a medium sized bowl the flour, dry yeast, sugar, and water until a sticky dough is obtained. Add more water if necessary to achieve this. Cover loosely with a plastic film and leave to rise for about 2 hours. The polish should be somewhat bubbly and have doubled in size.


Make the dough by hand or use a kneading machine. Mix together the flours, water (more or less as required), oil and the poolish. The dough will be sticky. Add the salt and knead till it is soft, very pliable and smooth. Shape it into a round and place it in a bowl greased with olive oil. Cover the bowl loosely and leave it to rise till double in volume. Mine took about 2 hours.

Cook the onions.
 While the dough is rising, get the toppings ready. Heat the oil in a pan and add the sliced onions. Sprinkle a little salt and cook the onions on low to medium heat until they turn translucent and soft. Do not brown or caramelize them. If they turn too dry, sprinkle a little water while cooking them. Take the pan off heat and let them cool to room temperature.

Prepare the breadcrumb mixture.
 Run the bread slices (with or without crusts) in a food processor to make the crumbs. Put the breadcrumbs in a bowl. Mix together with the oil, salt, red chilli flakes (or crushed pepper) chopped scallions/ spring onions, oregano and grated cheese. The texture should be of loose but moist crumbs.

 Once the dough has risen, gently knead to deflate it. Divide it into two equal portions. Press out each portion into a roughly 9-inch circle (or oval) using your fingers. If the dough feels sticky, oil your fingers lightly. Place in the oiled trays. I used a pie dish. Let the dough rise again, for about an hour till almost double in thickness and quite puffy.

Top with anchovy, then the cooked onions. Next comes the Ricotta and Tuma/ Primo Sale cheeses. Make sure to cover the surface of the dough evenly. Finish layering by spreading the breadcrumb mixture on the top.

 Bake the Sfincione at 250C (480F) on the bottom shelf of the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes. The underneath of the bread should become golden and crisp. Then move the pan to the middle shelf of the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or so, until it is crisp and golden brown on the top as well. Remove from the oven and let it cool.

Cut and serve. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.


  1. It looks gorgeous! So glad you made it work with non-dairy options for you!

  2. Your vegan sfincione looks wonderful. I really like the idea of chopped walnuts in the breadcrumbs.

    Now that's the way to celebrate a birthday - over more than one day. Happy birthday!

  3. From the looks of your loaf, I’d say you have a superlative non-dairy Sfincione! It just looks gorgeous and rich!

  4. Happy birthday! Yeah, I had to tent mine with foil toward the end in that hot oven. Walnuts sound delicious.

  5. Happy Birthday! Your non-dairy Sfincione looks great! I like the idea of using walnuts in the breadcrumbs as well.

  6. What an interesting variation.... I could see that for breakfast.

  7. And Happy Belated Birthday!

  8. Belated birthday wishes.
    I'm happy you could find suitable substitutes for the cheeses. Your Sfincione looks pretty good to me. At the end of the day, food has to be what suits our personal taste, authentic or not. :D