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Carta Musica (Semolina Crackers)

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Every day till Christmas, we're bringing you 12 Days of Baking: 12 all-new baking recipes to lift holiday spirits -- from breakfast pastries to dinner rolls, and all the desserts you can handle.

Today: Amanda brings us carta musica (semolina crackers), a new feather in your hors d'oeuvre cap.

Carta Musica

The first chef I worked for was Jody Adams, back when she was running Michela's in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Now, she's the chef and owner of Rialto Restaurant, also in Cambridge). Her kitchen staff at Michela's was diverse, and unlike most restaurant kitchens, there was gender equality and a fun, supportive atmosphere. Had it not been, I'm not sure I'd be here writing about food. Thanks to Jody, I was fully seduced by the culture she'd created, and decided then and there to make a career in the food business.

Jody was also ahead of her time in her love for Italian peasant cooking, epitomized by these crackers -- "carta musica," or sheet music -- which she served at Michela's.

Making crackers seems daunting, which is why most people pick them up at the grocery store, but these can be whipped up by anyone who can make pie dough. All you do is work 3 ingredients by hand into a firm dough. Roll out the dough as thinly as possible (you should be able to see through it). Lay the dough on a baking stone in a 500-degree oven. Then watch it through the oven door as it puffs and warps and sets to toasty, rigid crispness. The perfect hors d'oeuvre crackers are within reach.

My family has been making these for 20 years, ever since I worked at Michela's. At the holidays, we serve them with smoked salmon and this lemon-herb cream. This year, I'm changing to a smoked fish spread. But you might want to pair it with a cheese ball, pate, potted shrimp, rillettes, or pimento cheese. These crackers play nicely and get along with everyone, even dips.

Carta Musica (Semolina Crackers)

Adapted from Jody Adams, the chef at Rialto in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Makes about 20 large crackers

1 cup semolina flour
1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

See the recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: Cooking From Every Angle, Carta Musica (Paper-thin Semolina Crackers), 12 Days of Baking, Crackers, Italian, Hors d'Oeuvres

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Comments (11)


over 2 years ago burns Wattie

A few weeks ago I set out to figure out crackers too - and came up with the same result. Here's my blog about it: http://homecookexplorer... I'm interested to try the roling pin idea too. When using the pasta maker its best to have the dough just slightly too wet than too dry. Add more flour until it glutenates and rolls through easily. Its a lot easier than it being too dry. What IS fun are the taste ingredients. Family favs here are cumin/corriander/fennel whole seeds mixed in.


over 2 years ago PistachioDoughnut

made some this sunday with a little bit different recipe with fenugreek leaves and sesame..I used combination of flours and instead of semolina I used coarse corn meal.


over 2 years ago ChefCitron

Jody was the first chef I ever worked for, too! And years prior to that, I took a baking class with her in which we made Carta di Musica! I still ave the original (typed and photocopied) recipe.


over 2 years ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

I made a Jody Adams recipe for a group of former Bostonians just last night! A rich mixed autumn gratin. She's a real talent, and eating at Rialto is always a treat. I recommend the book she wrote with her husband, In the Hands of a Chef.


over 2 years ago Panfusine

wow.. multiple flavor possibilities.. cracked pepper, cumin, aleppo pepper come immediately to mind!


over 2 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I'm with panfusine - great recipe, love the look of the crackers and they seem very open to adding spices or seeds! Have you ever tried any variations?


over 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

So glad you brought this up because, yes!, we have added other flavors. My mother likes them with cracked black pepper. I've done chopped herbs. And I think any kind of seed would be great. Have fun!


over 2 years ago thirschfeld

I have always called it pane carasau. I love the stuff, I like to watch it get all bubbly. I top it with feta and z'atar or make this which is posted here on the site. http://www.food52.com/recipes...


over 2 years ago Panfusine

the texture reminds me of the Rosemary & thyme Pita chips from Vol. 1, pairs beautifully with Hummus. I pan toasted them on a cast iron skillet, they still puff up like in the photograph, although they end up with little brown spots rather than the subtle golden brown color that baking yields.


over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Really looking forward to making these. Thinking kala jeera would be fabulous. And this time of year, chopped rosemary perhaps with a few fennel seeds thrown in for good measure come to mind. Been searching for a good, simple cracker recipe for a few weeks now. Thanks for sharing this recipe! ;o)


over 2 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

Tom is correct. Pane Carasau is Sardegnan dialect. Sardegnans of course don't consider themselves to be Italian...anymore than Corsicans think of themselves to be French.