It is a a very thin flat bread--some might call a cracker--that was traditionally made for shepherds by the housewives to carry with them for long months on high pastures with their flocks. They can be eaten with sausage and cheese, or dipped in milk to re-hydrate for colazione and drizzled with honey or jam. Pane Frattau is a soup made with shards of Pane Carasau, meat, eggs, cheese and tomato. Modern Sardinian chefs are also using pane carasau in their recipes, for instance, carasau lasagna.
The tedious method by which is is made creates a thin, crispy bread that will last literally for months, even if it happens to crack into shards along their travels. There are some who refer to this flatbread as carte della musica (music sheets) because of its thinness.
The dough itself is fairly simple: durum wheat, yeast, water and salt. It's rolled into extremely thin rounds and baked in a wood oven until the bread puffs up like a balloon, then quickly (with dexterity, not to get steam-burned) cut into two halves, making it even thinner. They are then toasted again in the oven and dried completely. Nowadays, in Italy you might even come across packaged Pane Carasau in supermarkets.
- 1 1/2 Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 Cups Semolina Flour (Durham)
- 1 teaspoon, Active Dry Yeast
- 1 1/2 Cups Warm Water (Approximate, depending on humidity)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Place the baking steel into your oven and preheat to maximum temperature.
- In a 2 cup measuring cup or small bowl, dissolve the yeast, sugar and all the water, then proof for about 15 minutes.
- In a stand mixer, at first combine the all-purpose flour with salt.
- Mixing on low speed, add the yeast mixture to the flour.
- Mixing at a low speed, add 1/4 cup at a time of the bread flour until the dough climbs the dough hook, then knead briefly into a smooth ball on a lightly floured surface.
- Place into an oiled bowl and cover with a damp, cotton kitchen towel until doubled.
- Knead the dough for a second time on a lightly flowered surface for 2-3 minutes, them place back into the bowl for one more hour.
- Place the dough ball onto a lightly floured surface and cut into four equal pieces.
- Roll each into a long cylinder about 2'3" thick, then cutting each into small segments, each one about the side of a small dinner roll.
- With cupped hands, roll each segment into a ball shape.
- Using a straight rolling pin, roll out each round as thin as possible, about the size of a dinner plate.
- Since each one is baked separately, it's best to get help from other members of your family: One person is responsible for rolling out the flat rounds; The baker will be responsible for placing them into the oven onto the steel (or stone), keeping a watch on them as they bake, turning them over when puffed up, and removing them; A third person is needed to cut them in half with a very sharp paring knife and stack them before toasting in the oven a second time (which can be done after all have been cut and stacked.)
- The time it takes to bake your pane carasau depends on your oven. Obviously, in a 900 degree+ wood pizza oven, they will cook in less than a minute. In a 550 F oven with a baking steel, this might take 2-3 minutes. Using a baking stone, it might take a bit longer. This is the type of baking you need to keep a constant eye on, flipping over the ballooning breads briefly before removing them for cutting. I recommend studying how this is done in the video below.
- Remove, brush lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with fresh chopped rosemary and salt and return to the oven for a few minutes.
- Let sit until cool enough to handle, then break into large pieces.
- Serve warm.