Pan Cubano (Cuban Bread)

Started by Habanero Smoker, March 19, 2005, 01:10:06 PM

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Habanero Smoker

Pan Cubano - (Cuban Bread )
Originally published – Exploring Cuban-American Cuisine
Culinary Institute of American.
Revised by: Habanero Smoker

Cuban bread has a crisp crust on the outside and lightly textured inside. Makes two medium size loafs, or one large loaf.
2 1/4 tsp. Dry Yeast
1 Tbs. Sugar
1 1/4 C. Water, warm
4 C. Bread Flour (more or less to bring to proper consistency)
2 Tbs. Wheat Gluten
1 Tbs. Salt
*4 Tbs. Lard (room temperature)
Water, warm to brush on loaves before baking

*(<i>One <u>CANNOT</u> make Cuban bread without lard. If it doesn't have lard, it's <u>NOT</u> Cuban bread!)</i>

1) Grease a large bowl, set aside. Dissolve yeast and sugar in about 1/4 cup of warm water. Let it stand until it starts to foam. If it doesn't foam and bubble, you have some bad yeast!

2) Meanwhile place your lard in the freezer until it is very solid. Using a sharp knife, measure 4 tablespoons of lard, cut lard into small cubes, and place the cubes in a single layer on a piece of wax paper. Leave the cubes on the counter until the lard returns to room temperature.

3) Using a dough hook on an electric mixer, add the rest of the water to the yeast, sugar and water mixture, and continue mixing. If you do not have a mixer with a dough hook, you can use a wooden spoon to mix.

4) In a separate bowl, mix the flour, wheat gluten, and salt together. Gradually add the flour mixture, a little at a time, to your mixer – mixing constantly. At the same time you are adding flour, toss in a few cubes of softened lard and blend in all the lard gradually. Keep adding a little flour and a little lard until all of the lard is added. The final step is to gradually add more flour until you make a fairly stiff dough. You will need to adjust the amount of flour as necessary.  (Note: the dough has almost the consistency of Italian bread dough.) . If you do not have a mixer, you can use your hands or a wooden spoon, to mix in the lard and flour.

5) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Pound the dough ball down and knead, until smooth and elastic. If you mixed the dough by hand, it will require more kneading. There should be a little elasticity in the dough.

6) Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl. Flip it a few times to grease all sides. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm place. Let rise until the dough double in size (about 20 minutes).

7) Grease another bowl. Remove the dough from the large bowl and punch it down. Cut the dough in half to from two balls. Place each ball in a separate bowl. Cover each bowl with a moist cloth, place back in a warm spot, and let rise until the dough once again doubles in size – about 30 minutes.

8) Lightly grease a cookie sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal.

9) Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Place a pan of boiling water on the bottom of the oven. (You may need to add more boiling water before the final baking stage.)

10) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Shape into long, Cuban Bread-Style loaves, long and slightly tapered at both ends; approximately 14 inches in length. Lay dampened sterilized palmetto leaf down the center of the entire length of the loaf. If you do not have palmetto leaves, use a piece of thick sterilized kitchen string, or twine (about 1/8 " thick) along the top length of the loaf. A sterile non-dyed shoestring can also be used. (Sterilize the palmetto leaves or strings by soaking them in boiling water.)

11) Place the loaves onto the baking sheet, leaf (string) side down, keeping loaves about three inches apart. Place in a warm, draft free spot and allow the loaves to stand and rise for another 30 minutes. Brush the loaves with warm water and place, leaf (string) side down in middle shelf of the preheated oven. Leave in the oven for five to ten minutes, only to proof, (expand the loaves).

12) Remove the loaves, flip them over and brush them with warm water. Place in middle shelf of the oven. Add more boiling water to the pan you previously placed on the bottom of the oven, if necessary. Bake the two loaves until they are brown and crusty – about 30 - 45 minutes; depending on your oven. When the loaves are done, they should be lightly browned on top and sound hollow when lightly tapped on the bottom.

13) Immediately remove from baking sheets, and cool on wire racks. Let them cool slightly (not too long) and remove the palmetto leaves or string. The palmetto leaves or string should be easy to find, will leave a distinct little ridge on top.



Habanero Smoker,

Thank for this recipe~~!


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What's the string or the leaves do for the loaf?  Make it easier to cut in half?  Decorative?  

I love making bread.  Used to grind all my own flour and even bought a Gaggenau Steam oven to do small artisan loaves that allows baking with moisture going at the same time to get that nice crusty texture.  

Damn Diabetes...stopped most bread now...and always miss it!


<i>There is room on earth for all God's creatures....on my plate next to the mashed potatoes.</i>
There is room on earth for all God's creatures....right on my plate next to the mashed potatoes.

Habanero Smoker

When taught this recipe, I was told that this is the authentic way the bread is made, most now just make three diagonal slices on top of the bread prior to cooking. If you use the string or leaf method; for us it is more practical to use a string, I don't have any palmetto plants in my back yard [:)].

I think it is decorative, others say it creates a better crust, and improves the inside texture, that will be lost by making the diagonal cuts. The instructions may seem confusing, so I want to point out that you remove the string or palmetto leaf shortly after baking, 5 - 10 minutes after pulling it out of the oven.

During rising and baking the string or leaf will be just underneath the surface. When the bread is fully cooked you can make out where it is, because you will see a ridge. Start at one end, pry out the end of the string or leaf, grasp it and pull it as if you were peeling a banana. This will make a distinctive seam down the middle of the bread, and when removing the string or leaf you will also be removing a small area of the outer crust.



Wasn't confusing.   Just wanted to know the reason for it.  I always used to slice with a razor edge about 2 - 3 cuts to allow the steam to vent.  Removing string in this case does something to perhaps maintain the loaf consistency and not get soggy inside.


<i>There is room on earth for all God's creatures....on my plate next to the mashed potatoes.</i>
There is room on earth for all God's creatures....right on my plate next to the mashed potatoes.