In my book The Echoes of Love, the hero, Paolo, and the heroine, Venetia, escape to the island of Sardinia for some much needed time together. There, they sample a range of the local cuisine, including pane carasau.
Pane carasau is a traditional Sardinian flatbread whose recipe dates back a long way (it has been found in excavations on the island dated earlier then 1000 BC). The breads lasts, amazingly, for up to one year if kept dry, which is why it was ideal in ancient times for shepherds on the island who would be away from home for months.
The pane is known for two key qualities: thickness and crispiness. It’s usually baked in a large dish, up to fifty centimetres wide, and then split into two very thin sheets that are re-baked for extra crunch (so that the bread is like a cracker in consistency).
Pane carasau is also known as carta di musica for its resemblance to paper (a music sheet). Indeed, after cooking the bread is so thin you can see through it!
The bread is highly versatile – it can be eaten as it is, dry; dipped into wine or sauces, or combined into a main-meal dish, such as pane frattau, when the bread is combined with eggs, tomato sauce, olive oil and pecorino cheese (a kind of rustic pizza).
Here’s a simple recipe you can try at home.
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups semolina flour
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon dried yeast
1 teaspoon fine salt
1. Sift together the flours and the salt.
2. Dissolve the yeast in some of the water and leave until bubbling.
3. Stir the yeast into the flours and salt and add the rest of the water.
4. Mix well (a mixer comes in handy here). Knead lightly.
5. Leave to rise, covered, for an hour.
6. Knead thoroughly and divide into balls.
7. Grease flat baking trays with olive oil.
8. Roll out the balls to make thin rounds (thin as you can!) and place on the trays. (Depending on the size of your oven, you may need to bake in batches).
9. Bake in a preheated oven (475 F/ 225 C) for a 5 minutes, turning halfway.
10. Remove from oven. (For extra crunch, allow to cool and then repeat step 9 – bake again.)
Serve sprinkled with seasoning, such as paprika or sea salt, or alongside a dish as a dipper. Enjoy!