Cuban Bread (Pan Cubano)Cuban bread is the staple of many Cuban meals. It is typically used to make those delicious Cuban sandwiches.
3/4 tspn active dry yeast
1/3 cup bread flour
1/3 cup warm water
4 1/2 tspn active dry yeast
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tbsp lard
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
For the starter, mix the water with the yeast in small bowl. Make sure the mixture is thick before adding the bread flour. Mix in the bread flour well and cover and refrigerate overnight.
In a large bowl, add 3 tbsp warm water with yeast and sugar. Mix well in the bowl until the mixture begins to foam (about 10 mins). Add in the rest of the warm water to the mixture, and stir in the lard and 1/2 of the starter prepared above. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Then add the salt and flour 1 cup at a time, mixing in the dough contents with a mixer using a dough hook. Mix on low speed until blended.Next, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 8 mins). Place the dough in a greased bowl, and rub the dough ball around the bowl to grease on all sides. Cover bowl and place in a warm environment and allow for the dough to rise about twice its original height (about 1 hour). To form the bread loaves, take 1/4th of the dough and roll out to form a long cylinder (about 14 inches long). Make sure the ends are rounded. After finishing all 4 bread loaves, place the bread loaves (2 at a time) on a baking sheet with space in between to let the bread loaves expand. Lightly flour the top of the loaves by sprinkling some flour and loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap. Place in warm environment and allow dough to rise about twice its original height (about 1 hour).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place the bread loaves in the oven. Make sure to make a small incision with a knife along the length of the top of the bread loaves, leaving about an inch on the ends uncut. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 mins. You will have to brush water to the top of the loaves a couple of times so the loaves do not dry out. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow to cool for about an hour. Now make your self a Cuban-style sandwich and enjoy the bread you just baked!
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