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Close up of a cut loaf of pizza babka.

Scaccia: Sicilian “Pizza Babka”

  • Author: Nicole Gaffney (
  • Prep Time: 1 hour plus 2 hours rise time
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes plus 2 hours rise time
  • Yield: 1 loaf 1x
  • Category: bread
  • Method: baked
  • Cuisine: Sicilian


This traditional recipe for Scaccia Ragusana is a simple and unique bread preparation from Sicily. It’s surprisingly easier to make than it looks! Adapted from Saveur Magazine.


  • 1 1⁄4 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 2 cups durum wheat semolina flour
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt, plust more for sauce
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes with juice
  • 1⁄2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 8 oz. caciocavallo cheese, thinly sliced or grated
  • OR mild provolone cheese OR half provolone half pecorino Romano


  1. Whisk together 1⁄4 teaspoon sugar, yeast, and water in a large bowl. Let rest about 10 minutes or until foamy.
  2. Add the semolina flour, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and mix until the dough just comes together. Transfer to a very lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes. Lightly rub a bowl with oil, place the dough inside, cover and let rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  3. While the dough rests, make the sauce. Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil to a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and cook over medium heat, until it just starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the saucepan and use the back of a spoon to break them up. Add the remaining teaspoon of sugar and season with salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until some of the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat, add the basil, then use an immersion blender to puree everything until smooth. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  4. Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a 9-by-5-inch (or similar) loaf pan with parchment paper. Transfer the dough on to a large, lightly floured work surface, then use a rolling pin to roll the dough out as thin as possible. Try to get it to a 26-by-18-inch rectangle, or even larger if you can.
  5. Position the dough lengthwise in front of you, then spread half of the tomato sauce over the middle third. Sprinkle with half of the cheese, then fold the two sides over on to the sauce so that they overlap by only a few inches in the middle.
  6. Spread the remaining sauce over the left two thirds of the dough, then sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Fold the righthand unsauced side over the middle part of the sauced side, then fold the lefthand sauced side over that, like folding a letter.
  7. Fold the dough crosswise, then tuck the whole thing into the prepared loaf pan. Brush the top with olive oil, then bake in the hot oven for about 1 hour.
  8. Immediately invert the scaccia onto a rack, then remove the loaf pan and parchment paper. Let the loaf cool in this position for 10 minutes. Turn the loaf right-side-up, then slice into thick pieces and serve warm.

Keywords: scaccia, bread, cheese, provolone, caciocavallo, tomatoes, babka, pizza, lasagna, Sicily, Sicilian