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Pane carasau is a traditional flatbread. It originally came from the autonomous Italian island of Sardinia. The bread is thin and has a crisp consistency similar to that of a cracker. It can be the size of, or even larger than a dinner plate. This versatile food can be prepared and served in several ways and with a wide array of seasonings, condiments, and toppings.
The bread is also commonly known as carta da musica. This term means "sheet music" in Italian. It is a popular name for pane carasau because it is as thin as paper and its large size is similar to that of the sheets used for musical notation.
Pane carasau is an ancient dish, with roots reaching back to at least 1,000 B.C. The bread was originally popular among shepherds, who found its portability and longevity useful as they would typically be away from cooking facilities for long periods of time. It was originally eaten dry, though it is now more commonly served wet with accompaniments such as olive oil, sauces, and wine.
A typical pane carasau is made in two steps. First a piece of flatbread is prepared. Then it is split into two sheets which are cooked further until they have reached the desired crispness.
The basic traditional recipe for pane carasau consists of flour, water, salt, and yeast. Often more than one kind of flour is used in the mix. First the yeast is combined with warm water. Then the ingredients are combined to make the dough, which is left to rise for at least an hour. Usually it is then kneaded thoroughly and given another hour to rise.
Once the pane carasau dough has risen, it is divided and rolled into balls. These balls are flattened as much as possible. Ideally, the flattened dough will reach to the edge of the baking pan.
The dough is then baked in an oven for several minutes. It is removed after it blisters, but before the bread browns. Usually the bread pieces are then piled in stacks to cool.
Pane carasau is often then split apart and reheated before serving. It is typically served with condiments such as oil, wine, and sauces. The bread may also be seasoned with coarse salt or dried herbs. Some cooks heat the bread with accompaniments on top such as sauce, fresh vegetables, or shredded cheese. Depending on the way in which it is prepared, it can be a side dish or serve as the centerpiece for a light meal.