The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Italian sesame / olive oil flat bread / cracker?

thewat's picture

Italian sesame / olive oil flat bread / cracker?

A year or two ago I spent a week in Marche, Italy, and at two separate bakeries - one in Ancona and one just South - I bought a flat bread / cracker, 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, loaded with olive oil & sesame & sunflower seeds. It was thick & crunchy but not dry tasting (because of all the olive oil). I could see the sunflower seeds & taste the sesame. It looked like it had been a really wet dough, cooked in a rectangular pan. The second place I got it said it was called "Pizza Seca." I can't find anything like it, either in my books or on the web. Anyone know? I found it slightly addictive. 

flournwater's picture

I believe the flat bread you experienced is prepared using a simple pizza dough.  High hydration, well oiled doughs the might otherwsie be used for what we typically call "Pizza" are widely used for a lot of simple breads/crackers in the Italian culture.  What you describe sounds like a focaccia style bread.  You can make a pizza dough crust, using only an AP flour, that should give you the results you experienced in your trip.

Perhaps the greatest error made in preparing these kinds of breads is to overload them with ingredients.  A biit of rosemary and a bit of chopped or sliced olive is enough.  I rarely add more than three ingredients to the topping mix.  Sunflower seeds or roasted pine nuts with some onion and garlic are very nice. I like to include the garlic in the dough or, as an alternative, use garlic infused olive oil in the dough and to brush on top right after it comes out of the oven.

How's this look?


heidet's picture

In the Marche, there is a famous flatbread called Piadine, made with lard, and used to make tostine, toasted sandwiches. Usually it is similar to mexican tortilla . It is only similar to crackers if later baked or toasted. If piadine is the recipe you desire, then I am happy to provide one I was given by a baker near Belforte.

thewat's picture

Thanks Heidet.

I'm always up for special bread recipes, and if you would be willing to share the recipe, I'd be delighted. I've just found a good source of lard, which I've never cooked with.

althetrainer's picture

I got the picture from Richard Bertinet's DOUGH.

thewat's picture

It was less "bready" and crunchier than any focaccia I've ever had, and had no toppings, but you may be right that it is essentially a pizza dough variation. It's a little hard for me to tell what is going on in the picture posted by althetrainer, but I suspect the dimples are right & that it was darker in color. It had a surprising amount of flavor, and I remember being impressed that it was even good as it got more stale. It was sold cut into big rectangles. A sweet Italian food blogger actually went to the place I got it, purchased a piece, declared it delicious, but couldn't replicate it. (The things we do for bread...)

JeremyCherfas's picture

Maybe you could persuade the sweet Italian food blogger to go back and ask the baker for the recipe? I'd do it if it were Rome.

Just a thought.


thewat's picture

Thanks - now that I've come to understand how huge this network is, i'll put out a plea here if I can't turn up something close... The blogger was on vacation - not a usual stop for her. It was very cool, though - I described (from my home in CT, US) how I'd gotten to the bakery & where the bread was in the case... And she wrote me back about four days later saying she'd gotten the last square on the day she was there... The internet is extraordinary. 

suzzee100's picture

Hi all,

New to posting (I was going to de-lurk soon, I promise) and I actually have an olive oil cracker recipe that I think might fit the bill, although they're a lot thinner (at least that's how I bake them). They're quite addictive & I'm not sure where I got the recipe but here it is:

Olive Oil Cracker Recipe

1 1/2 cups semolina flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

special equipment: pasta machine (optional)

Whisk together the flours and salt. Add the water and olive oil. Using a mixer with a dough hook attachment mix the dough at medium speed for about 5 - 7 minutes. Alternately, feel free to mix and then knead by hand on a floured counter-top. The dough should be just a bit tacky - not too dry, not too sticky to work with. If you need to add a bit more water (or flour) do so.

Form into a ball, spray with oil cover with plastic wrap & let rest 1 hour.

While the dough is resting, preheat your oven to 450F degrees.

When the dough is done resting, tear off a small dough ball & re-cover big dough ball. Using a rolling pin or a pasta machine, shape into a flat strip of dough - I can usually get down to the 5 setting on my pasta machine w/o trouble. Pull the dough out a bit thinner by hand (the way you might pull pizza dough). 

I bake on an ungreased cookie sheet & spray with olive oil, add grated parmesan (not fresh, the Kraft kind) garlic salt, spray with olive oil again & then cut into vague cracker sizes with a pizza cutter. Bake at 450° for 9-12 minutes depending on your oven & the thickness of the crackers & the thickness of the cookie sheets. I have various weights & bake longer on the thick ones than the thin ones. They're done when they're golden, although my  1 daughter & hubby like them almost burnt. Repeat until out of dough.

I make different variations - adding a cup of parmesan to the dry ingredients (my favorite) and then putting on the garlic salt with a pretty liberal hand, adding sesame and/or flaxseeds to the dough with seeds on top, garlic salt instead of regular salt to the dough . . .

The dough really needs to rest a full hour. I make it stiff enough that it's easy to run though the pasta rollers on my KA. It won't feel like pasta dough (not leathery) but it's easy to handle. If you're rolling by hand you'll probably need to bake longer as they'll be thicker. Sometimes I make them thicker just so we can spread cream cheese on them - yum!

I adapted the recipe for my other daughter, who's gluten intolerent - if anyone's interested I can post it too, later - gotta go get bread in the oven & am working on onion soup for dinner but I'll be back on tonight.

I made these yesterday & there are still some left so if anyone wants to see a pic I could take one tonight.

Forgive any typos, I'm in a hurry . . .


flournwater's picture

Thanks Suzzee  -  question.  How do you use AP flour (or white whole wheat flour) for a gluten free diet?  All of the gluten free diets I cook for wouldn't tolerate it.

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

I made your crackers last night.  So easy and quick to make. The dough was a dream to work with. They tast great and very addictive.  I devided the batch so I have more to roll out tonight.


Thank you, Faith


suzzee100's picture

Thanks Faith! I almost always double the recipe - otherwise they're gone in 2 days. I just plan on spending a lot of time in the kitchen on cracker day. They store really well for a few weeks in an airtight container.

mimagst's picture

Hi suzzee100,

the recipe looks good. If you post the gluten free version would be great.

My husband has developed gluten intolerance, and I am after edible gluten free breads. The usual gluten free "bread" flours smell like a medicine to me.

Thanks a lot,



suzzee100's picture

If you roll them by hand or make them thick, you'll need to prick them like you do a pie crust to keep air bubbles from forming; if they're really thin, they won't bubble.

thewat's picture

The crackers look great - thanks for posting. It hadn't occurred to me to play around with a cracker base, rather than playing around with a focaccia base. I'll give it a shot & let you know how it goes. 

Boboshempy's picture


Would you mind posting the link to the Italian Foob Blog you mentioned.  I love that stuff.



thewat's picture

Rowena, Hawaiian, blogging from Lecco:


suzzee100's picture

It's a separate recipe for the gluten-free:


Gluten free crackers - my recipe


1.5 cup white rice flour

1.5 cup almond flour

.5 cup potato starch

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp guar gum

3 Tblspn honey

2 Tblspn olive oil

.25 cup flaxseed

.25 cup toasted sesame seeds

.33 cup - .5 cup room temp. water (add as ingredients start to mix)


mix with flat beater until it forms a ball. dough should be tacky & just a little sticky.

let it sit at room temp for a couple of hours to let it rest. put in refrig overnight.


next day, roll out as thin as possible, using rice flour to keep from sticking - haven't been sucessful using pasta rollers; just too wet a dough; any drier & the dough crumbles. I still need to work on this, but I don't make them very often. 


carefully transfer to a cookie sheet lined with no-stick foil. cut into crackers with pizza cutter, spray with water, sprinkle with preferred seeds, then spray with olive oil.


bake at 350° for 23-27 minutes, until light brown and solid-feeling when poked with a finger.


This is still a work in progress - these are workable, though & my daughter says they taste like real crackers. I've tried them with different flours - this combo seems (so far anyway) to work the best. The seeds, of couse can be any or none - I've made these with Kraft parmesan, too - they'd also be good with sunflower seeds, I'm sure, but I don't keep those around very often.



As my daughter is only around lunchtimes on Saturday, I don't make these as often as the regular ones.

suzzee100's picture

The pic above isn't my crackers, although they look yummy!