The story of "Pane Carasau di Sardegna"
"Pane Carasau" is like no other bread. Maybe it is because how tedious it is to make it, maybe because good, authentic, traditional things deserve time and passion.
It is a lesson i have learned again and again, and is something we teach our kids whenever we cook, which is about two to three times a day.
Maybe it is the reason that our kids love "Pane Carasau". And pretty much all kids that tried it from us fell in love with it. You see, kids have a thing for authentic and traditional goodies.
The story of "Pane Carasau" begins long ago, longer than most of us knew, almost 3000 years ago, according to the archeological excavations of the "nuraghes" - ancient traditional Sardinian stone buildings to be found across the island - where archeologists found traces of this bread.
"Pane Carasau" emerged as a solution to the island's shepherds, who needed to have a bread that kept long enough without loosing its nutritional properties, whenever they were far away from home for months at a time: in fact, if kept dry, "Pane Carasau" can last up to 1 year.
"Pane Carasau di Sardegna" is an ancient and traditional product of this lands, a very particular type of bread, characterized by its flat and thin shape, originating from Barbagia.
Barbagia is a marvelous region, untouched by industrialization and technology, considered to be the agricultural hart of the entire island. Among others, it is home to some of the best olive oils in entire Italy, ancient sorts of wheat, amazing red Cannonau ("the world famous "Nepente" di Oliena) , and of the "Pane Carasau"
This is a place where traditions and family go hand in hand, so "Pane Carasau" could not be an exception: it is a tradition to be made in the family, as people once did, families gathering once per month for making batches of the bread - a tradition called "Sa Cotta" - or in small artisan workshops such as Mario's Tundu, that make it their mission to produce this timeless delicacy following the exact traditions, ingredients and methodology as years and years ago
Only four ingredients come to play when baking "Pane Carasau": durum wheat, lievito madre (sourdough), salt and water. Nevertheless, the process is demanding time and effort, from leavening, to rolling, slicing and baking
The first step in making Pane Carasau, also called "S'inthurta", is working the the sourdough and the durum wheat by hand, in large pot made of wood or terracotta.
Subsequently, the dough is left to sit - "pesare" - for more than twelve hours - traditionally covered by linen sheets - so that the dough goes through a slow and complete leavening, before going into the next step, where it gets split into smaller pieces, which are left leavening once more.
This is followed by manually rolling the smaller pieces of dough into large, round, thin layers. This is a hand made process, which was the reason why in the old days there were at least three women working on the dough whenever "Pane Carasau" was baked.
The dough is now ready for baking: it is put on a round shovel, and inserted into the wooden oven, at a very high temperature.
This is the most interesting part of the baking process, when the dough completely inflates, which is also the right moment to be taken out of the oven, sliced in two - "fresare" , and added again, one by one, this time even thiner sheets than before.
It is the final process, also called "Carasatura" , a word coming from the sardinian verb "carasare", which means toasting, and that gives the characteristic thinness and crispiness to the final product: the "Pane Carasau di Sardegna"
We strongly believe that Mario's small workshop makes the best "Pane Carasau" there is. We still remember the first time we tried Tundu's olive oil sprinkled "Pane Gucciau", and had some of our best "umami moments"...it was after having tried at least ten other producers, trying to understand the hype behind the "Pane Carasau", and almost letting it go. We have a lovely story to tell on that, and on how we met Mario's mother, and how we got to know him.
And we strongly believe in his dream and story: for it is the story of a tradition he respects, of a bread made with heart, of a family true to their ancient traditions and ways of live. It is the story of the things done the right way
We'll share it in one of our next blogs, as well as the variations of "Pane Carasau", and the traditional ways of eating it, from "antipasti" to "lasagna".
Until then, you can find more about Tundu on their Instagram's account: https://www.instagram.com/tunducarasau_oliena/
and shop their fabulous bread on our website: