One of the essential elements of a good Cuban (Cubano) Sandwich is the bread. From one of the vendors I talked to in Miami, you have to use Cuban bread or it isn’t a Cubano sandwich. Okay, so let’s roll with that.
Here is the basic recipe for making Cuban bread (Pan Cubano). The main difference between this and white bread is the use of lard. This gives the bread more stability, and it browns up nicely when pressing.
1Chef’s Note: This is the first of three recipes that I’m posting for the making of an authentic Cubano Sandwich. The second will be on preparing the Cubano smoked pork, and the third will be on constructing the sandwich.
2Add the sugar to the warm water, and mix until completely dissolved.
3Add the yeast, and allow it to bloom.
4Chef’s Note: Adding the yeast to the warm water with a growth medium (sugar) will make the yeast active. If after 5 minutes, the liquid appears the same, the yeast is dead (give it a proper burial). Go to Ye Old Store and get some more.
5After 5 minutes you should see foaming on the top of the water.
6Add all the ingredients to a mixer fitted with a flat paddle.
7Mix on slow speed until the ingredients are incorporated.
8Change to a dough hook, and mix on medium speed for 6 to 8 minutes.
9Chef’s Tip: When the dough is ready, it should being riding up the hook.
10Chef’s Note: Depending on a ton of conditions, you might need to add a bit more flour, or a bit more liquid.
11Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, and kneed for about 2 minutes, adding a bit of extra flour, if needed.
12The dough should be elastic and slightly sticky.
13Chef’s Note: I love to kneed dough… its takes away all my frustrations.
14Add a bit of oil (olive or grapeseed) to a bowl.
15Add the dough and turn to coat.
16Cover and allow it to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
17Is should look something like this.
18Punch the dough down, and place on a lightly floured surface.
19Kneed the dough 2 or 3 times, and then divide into 4 equal pieces.
20Chef's Note: I'm only making half a recipe, so that's why I only have 2 pieces.
21Chef’s Note: If you’re not using all of the dough, you can tightly wrap the unused portions in cling foil, and store in the freezer for a month or longer.
22Allow the dough to rest, covered for 15 minutes.
23Roll each piece into a log shape about 8 inches (20cm) long.
24Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or a baking rack, as pictured.
25Cover and allow them to rise for 1 hour.
26Place a rack in the middle position, and preheat the oven to 375f (190c).
27Brush the loves lightly with water.
28Using a Lame or sharp knife, cut them lengthwise from left to right.
29Place in the preheated oven and bake until the loaves are golden brown, about 30 minutes.
30Allow the loaves to cool, before slicing, about 20 minutes.
31Chef's Note: This is the beginning of a great Cubano sandwich, and as generic sandwich bread, it can’t be beat. Enjoy.