Mark Bittman / New York Times News Service

There is a wonderful Sardinian flatbread known as carta musica — sheet music, because it is nearly impossibly thin — that I never thought of making. Something about its ethereal nature made me assume (idiotically, as it happens) that it would be too difficult.

I had eaten the flatbread a few times in Genoa, Italy, where there is a large Sardinian community. When I encountered it not long ago at Grandaisy Bakery, which has a small operation in my Manhattan neighborhood, I asked if I could watch it being produced. It turns out to be a snap; the bread has such a high percentage of olive oil that rolling it super-thin is almost no work at all.

But Grandaisy uses a touch of yeast in its carta musica, and using yeast takes time. Traditional or not, I was more interested in producing an unleavened matzo-like bread, one that contained more flavor than matzo does — the olive oil takes care of that. (Whether it’s legit for Passover is not a question I’m going to address; views on that would vary.)

So I tinkered; really, it didn’t take much. I removed the yeast. The process became as simple as combining flour, olive oil, salt and water in a food processor, dividing the batch into 12 balls and rolling them out as thin possible. The dough is a joy to work with. It’s almost impossible to tear and, with a minimum of additional flour, is stick-free. Baking takes a bit of practice because the oven must be heated to reach a very high temperature before the dough is inserted. The last few breads will bake a bit faster than the first few because the baking sheet will be hot.


Makes 12 servings

2 C flour

1⁄2 tsp salt

1⁄3 C olive oil

1⁄2 C water

Sea salt, optional

Heat the oven to 500 degrees. Put flour, salt and olive oil in a food processor. Once the machine is on, add water. Continue to run the machine until the dough forms a firm ball, rides around on the blade and is not at all sticky. (If you prefer, whisk together the water and oil and add this to the machine all at once.)

Cut the dough into 12 small balls and flatten each into a 3- to 4-inch patty. On a well-floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll each patty into a 6- to 8-inch circle. The dough should be so thin you can almost see through it.

Put the dough on ungreased cookie sheets, sprinkle with sea salt if you like, and bake for about 2 to 3 minutes, keeping a very close eye on the breads — they can burn very quickly. Once they begin to puff up and brown, flip and cook for another minute or so. Repeat with all the dough and let cool completely.