Tabisca (a typical Sicilian pizza with ancient roots)
If you ever find yourself in the small coastal town of Sciacca, in the Agrigento province, and decide to order pizza, don't be surprised if you are served a "tabisca" instead, as the two words are almost synonymous in this area.
The term "tabisca" is apparently an ancient Arabic word, used to describe a naturally leavened piece of dough to which olive oil and salt were added.
It is a sort of hybrid of pizza, focaccia and bread with a characteristic oval shape and, in olden times, it was prepared by the peasant families of Sciacca and topped with simple ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, capers, pecorino cheese and olives - the most typical Mediterranean ingredients.
What’s unique about tabisca is its crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside base that comes from using durum wheat flour - a fine semolina flour we call “semola rimacinata di grano duro” that is the base of many of our breads, pastas and other traditional baked goods in Sicily.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and give it a try as it is truly unique!
Ingredients (for 1 large tabisca)
For the base:
500g durum wheat flour
270g lukewarm water
3 tbsp olive oil
12g fresh yeast
1 tsp salt
For the topping:
300g cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp salted capers, rinsed
1 medium white onion, sliced
Black olives (as many as you like)
A few shavings of pecorino cheese
A drizzle of olive oil
A few leaves of fresh basil or fresh oregano
Salt to taste
Chilli flakes (optional)
Make the dough. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water and wait for 10 minutes to let it activate.
In a large bowl, mix flour and salt and start adding the water in batches, while kneading to incorporate. Lastly, add the oil and knead until absorbed fully. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and continue to knead for 5 minutes until you have a very smooth, stiff ball.
Place in an oiled bowl, cover and proof until doubled in volume (the time will depend largely on the outside temperature but should take approximately 2 hours).
Pre-heat the oven to 200C. The dough should be quite stiff and less sticky than a pizza dough so you should be able to flatten it with your hands quite easily. Give it an oval shape and a thickness of roughly 1.5cm (it should be thicker than a pizza and it will continue to rise in the oven).
Top the dough firstly with the tomatoes, then the onions, capers, olives. Add a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Once out of the oven, top with fresh basil and pecorino shavings. Serve on a wooden board, cut into slices.
Word of the Day
(To knead, pronounced im·pa·stà·re)