The fascinating story behind two legendary Italian breads.
Coppia Ferrarese,a bread whose twisted shape was first served at the ducal banquet tables of Ferrara.
Coppia Ferrarese is a regional bread particular to the province of Ferrara in Northern Italy. With IGP (protected geographical indication ) status similar to Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma you know it must be special. The name comes from the shape of the bread made by the coupling of two pieces of dough twisted together to form the distinctive four-point X shape.
Type “O” soft wheat flour, pure pork lard, extra virgin olive oil, yeast, salt and malt are used to make this golden-crusted, aromatic bread. The history of bread making in Ferrara dates to 1287. Historical references in the late 1600’s talk about the bread of Ferrara, highlighting its goodness and strange shape, types of flour used for the special process and the contribution that it gave to the fame of regional gastronomy.
Pane Carasau, also known as Carta di Musica (sheet music) because of its extremely thin paper-like quality.
The inhabitants of the island of Sardegna eat a fiber rich diet of fava beans (high in folate) and a type of nutritive wafer-thin flat bread known as Pane Carasau or Carta da musica. The bread is named for its cracker-like crispness (in the Sardinian dialect “carasare” means toasting) and its large and paper thin shape similar to a sheet of music. Remains of this type of bread were found in archeological excavations of nuraghi (traditional Sardinian stone buildings) dating to before 1000 BC. Traditionally a bread of shepherds, who carried it in their saddle bags, it could be preserved in the long months (up to one year) they were away from home. Here is a link to a remarkable documentary of the making of Pane Carasau. The bread is baked in 7 stages and requires 3 women to make it. The ovens used in the baking must be at 840°-930°F to achieve the characteristic puffiness and flavor.
State side versions (although not as authentic) were once available at Trader Joe’s as Pane Guttiau – Sardinian Parchment Crackers or you can make them with the following recipe.
Pane Carasau – Sardinian Crisp Bread
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 cups semolina flour
- 1 1⁄2teaspoons salt
- about 1 1⁄3cups lukewarm water
- about 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt, to taste
- Combine first 3 ingredients in large bowl. Slowly mix in enough lukewarm water to form moist soft dough. Knead in bowl until dough is no longer sticky. Knead dough on lightly floured work surface until smooth, about 15 minutes. Cover with plastic and let stand at room temperature at least 20 minutes and up to 1 1/2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 450°F Very lightly dust 2 large baking sheets with whole what pastry flour. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Pat 1 piece into disk (keep remaining dough covered). Roll out disk to 13-inch round, lifting and turning often. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake until edges begin to turn up and bread is still malleable, about 3 minutes. Turn bread over and bake until bread bubbles in spots and is golden in places, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer to rack.
- Brush oil over bread. Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Repeat with remaining dough.
Yield 8 sheets. Serves 16-32.
Sardinians call pane carasau – pane guttiau when sprinkled with salt and a drizzle of olive oil and then warmed for a few minutes.