May 17, 2010

Pane Carasau

Pane carasau is the traditional cracker-type bread from Sardinia. It's thin and very crisp, usually disk-shaped and nearly 2 feet wide. Traces of this bread were found in the nuraghi (traditional megalithic Sardinian stone structures) this means it existed before 1000 BC.

Image © Ars Alimentaria

Because of its long shelf life, pane carasau was used by shepherds during their long travels from place to place to find fresh pasture for their livestock. Properly baked carasau can last in the pantry for over a year.


Made from hard wheat bran (or semola di grano duro in Italian), salt, yeast and water, pane carasau is obtained through a complex process.

After kneading the dough, it has to be rolled out into very thin sheets that are then baked in a very hot oven (840 C° ~ 930° F) this makes the sheets puff up into a ball.

The puffed breads are then removed from the oven, and with great skill, cut along their circumference and divided into round leaves, which are then stacked one on top of the other, porous side up.
The sheets are then baked once again in order to obtain their hallmark crispiness and characteristic color, or carasatura. Finally the twice-baked pane carasau is left to rest covered by a linen sheet and held down by a brick or a heavy plank of wood, to avoid the rounds from curling as they cool.

Sardinians call carasau pane guttiau when sprinkled with salt and a thread of olive oil and then warmed on the barbecue for a few minutes. Another recipe employing carasau is pane frattau, in which the crisp disks are revived in boiling broth, served dressed with rich tomato or rag├╣ sauce, dusted with grated goat cheese and topped with a poached egg.


These particular dressed carasau breads last very little. The minute after I serve them, they're already finished!

29 comments:

  1. Oh wow! That looks fabulous! We nearly went to Sardinia this year but settled on Spain instead...the next trip MUST be a return to Italy (including Sardinia) - I think that, when planning a trip to Spain, one should NOT read blogs about Italian food!

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  2. Love your delicious and educational post! Fabulous photos as well - thanks!

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  3. a wonderful post ....l know nothing about this pane and am pleased to learn...thanks!!

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  4. oh yeah, put that in front of me and it would all be over with...too soon. smiles.

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  5. I would like that pane frattau for dinner tonite, in fact i would like it right now. I LOVE flat bread in every one of it's forms!
    yum.
    ♥ lori

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  6. Yes please!!! I'll just take that big piece of linen and tie it around my neck to keep the tomato sauce off my clothes. Yum.

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  7. Oh my, that looks tasty, and crunchy... is one permitted to drink a beer with this ? Or is only red wine allowed ? I could go for a beer with the pane carasau... hmmm, carasau, sounds almost like "carouse"... as in definitely naughty...
    :-)

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  8. Laura~ Italy is waiting for you!
    Stephanie~ Thank you for visiting! And commenting too!!
    Saz~ It's my pleasure. Eating together is so much tastier!
    Brian~ Polished off in a matter of minutes, I'm telling you.
    Mermaid Lori~ One more thing we have in common ;)
    Louciao~ Oh, the messier the merrier!
    Owen~ Beer is PERFECT with this!

    Ciao and buon appetito...

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  9. Spacedlaw~ I know, it's so versatile! Last week I made guacamole and I "only" had carasau to eat it with. Move over, corn chips.

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  10. Is there any kind of bread I don't like? I don't think so.
    This would be so versatile but I don't think I can find an oven that gets that hot.

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  11. Just loved eating these when I was in Sardinia, but I've never tried them topped with sauce as your photo shows. Will have to give it a go - but wait - I need a ticket to Sardinia.

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  12. This is all new to me. I love the shelf life (especially finding traces from 1,000 years ago) and story behind it. And love that really - you can top it with anything. And everything.

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  13. I wonder if I like this so much because of the salt?

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  14. That's pretty fascinating. I would never have imagined the bread puffing up like a pillow while baking. Learn something new every day...

    Word verification is OSONIO. Does that possibly mean anything in Italian? :-)

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  15. I always try to make sure I've eaten before approaching your site, but it still tricks my stomach into thinking it needs more food! Delish! I also really like piadina romagnola - although it certainly doesn't have the same shelf-life - it's great for hot and cold sandwiches when you don't want to chomp your way through thick bread... (sadly it has wheat, so another tasty think of my menu :-()

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  16. I've never heard of this. Thanks for the info.

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  17. We love this bread/crackers even with just some cheese or salami - so good. Your pic of the puffy one in the oven reminds me of an Indian bread we make which is cooked briefly in a fry pan, then put over the open flame of the burner so it puffs up (and yes, I've forgotten the name for a moment - darn). Must try with more toppings - looks so yum.

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  18. LoriE~ I like ALL linds too. Way too hard to make this needs to be bought!
    CCLinda~ Let's go together!
    Claudia~ I'm happy I was the one to introduce you to this delight!
    Emom~ Yum indeed!
    Lindy~ the basic carasau is saltless, but I understand what you mean.
    Joe~ That's what my book is all about! Loving how we eat!!
    Jim~ It means: "Oh, it's me!" :)
    Stratusviatoris~ Wheat or gluten intolerant? Big difference...
    Theresa~ Sardinia (with its culinary delights) is still very much unknown.
    Fern~ Is the Indian bread you mean CHAPATI?

    Ciao

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  19. I think then Eleonoras that the place we stayed in Sardinia, must have added the salt to the basic recipe to make us drink more of their wine:)

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  20. An interesting variation on the flatbreads of the world. This is a new one to «Louis». He would like to try the carasau. YUM!

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  21. Ooh, yummy!!! I love how so many cultures have their own variations of this thin, crispy kind of bread.

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  22. Fascinating!

    Are those baking temperatures celsius or fahrenheit?

    Ciao, Carlo -:)

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  23. Ah, ah, a bit of Middle Eastern influence here. BTW I just found out that Sardinian is a recognized official language. I didn't know!

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  24. I just returned from Italy and this makes me want to cry! Yum!!! Well, at least I can get a bit of Italy here ... I think I will actually have to start cooking these beautiful recipes instead of just looking, getting famished and ordering take out!

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  25. OMG! i come here and i want to eat your PHOTOS! your reverence for food is obvious in every shot you share.

    i love this last recipe! so easy peasy, so healthy. the egg on top is the exclamation point!

    i don't come to visit you often enough and i want to change that. plus we are kind of related thanks to robyn's big-P book.

    with love
    kj

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  26. Pane Carasau,
    so many memories!
    The batch a waiter in Ravenna gave me two years ago back in Ravenna is long gone (he was from Sardegna and "imports" it himself every time he pays a visit home, so this was a special treat for me - he appreciated that I had noted that it was not the average Carasau you get in grocery stores).
    Ah, Italy! *longingsigh*

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