Baked Delicacies  

The foods in this section include bread, flatbread stuffed with various ingredients like sfinciuni, cudduruni, ‘mpanata, scacciata, single-serving turnovers, cassateddi stuffed with vegetables and/or meat, and other Sicilian specialties.  

Those specialties, well liked and part of the popular cuisine, are considered convenience food because they are easy to carry, and thus practical to take to work or school for lunch. They are delicious hot or at room temperature. 

Bread dough is the primary element to all of the above-mentioned delicacies; wheat is the main ingredient to make them. 

Wheat enters history in the Neolithic Age, around 10,000 BC, at the time when humans began to domesticate animals, cultivate the land, make metal tools, cook, build houses and burial sites, etc. 

 

Wheat was found in tombs dating from the sixth and fifth centuries BC in Egypt along the Nile Valley and in tombs in Abyssinia, where it is believed that this grain was first cultivated. Later, wheat replaced the popular cereals, millet, oats and barley because of the high yield and also because wheat was better suited to different climatic conditions. 

The cultivation of wheat made a great change in the economy of all Mediterranean and Middle East countries, including Assyria, Babylonia and Greece, where agriculture was the main economic resource. It was at that time that the staple foods of these people—millet, oats and barley—were replaced by wheat, which became one of the most important and principal basic foods.  

 

Herodotus, who was born in 484 BC, wrote that bread yeast was experienced first by Egyptian priests, who spread the use of this miracle, calling it that due to the fact that when the dough became sour, the bread rose and swelled during baking, making it more palatable, soft and of longer preservation. They also observed that, “miraculously,” the dough increased in volume, that would form an infinite number of cavities when cooked, that the acid odor would disappear once baked, and that the bread produced was soft and pleasant. 

Every city and each country had different qualities of bread. By adding honey, flavors, seeds, nuts, meat, fish and other local products, a great variety of breads, cakes and sweets were created, including many specialties still present in Sicilian cuisine. 

It became customary for every family to bake bread and have a starter of sourdough to be used for baking. In every home, the sourdough was kept and guarded religiously. Bread gained a high religious value when Jesus Christ, on his Last Meal, blessed the bread and said, “Hoc est corpus meum,” “This is my Body.” 

 

 

Bread in Sicily is made using various methods including different grades of wheat flour, baking with dry or moist heat and shaping it into different forms to achieve a more or less crispy crust and a singular taste.

Baked food and bread are present on every Sicilian table every day. Panini, is a fast and simple sandwich made of a small piece of bread or roll stuffed with cold cuts or leftovers: convenient and easy to make for an enjoyable lunch or snack, to take to work or include in the kids’ lunch box.