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 durum wheat flour (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 grill 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 ragù sauce, dusted with grated goat cheese and topped with a poached egg.