Fresh Cuban Bread

At least it’s a version of Cuban bread. I got this one from Chef John’s Foodwishes.com. I made this the other day, and it is pretty good. It makes good toast. And, of course, it makes good sandwiches, which is why Chef John made; his Cuban Sandwich. If you want to see the video, go to Cuban Bread – Commence Operation Cubano Sandwich.

Warning! You must mix the starter the day before the bread operation begins.

Ingredients

For the starter:
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast

For the dough:
1 package active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup warm water
3 tablespoons lard (I used butter)
2 teaspoons fine salt
3 cups flour or as needed (I used 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
and 1 1/2 cups bread flour)
A spray bottle to spray the tops of loaves with water

Directions

For the starter the day before:
Mix warm water (105ºF) and yeast in a bowl. Add flour and mix well. Cover and save overnight in the refrigerator.

For the Dough:

1. Mix dry yeast, sugar, warm water and let stand for 15 minutes.
2. Add starter from the day before (reserve 1/4 cup if you want to keep your starter going), plus the lard, salt, & flour a little at a time (about a cup). No more than the 3 cups
3. Knead until slightly tacky and spongy (either by hand or a mixer with dough hook.
4. Place in an oil bowl and place in a warm spot for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
5. On a floured surface knock down the dough, shape into a rectangle and divide in half.
6. Shape each piece into rectangles, then roll into loaves, press to slightly flatten.
7. Transfer to cornmeal-lined baking sheet. Use parchment paper.
8. Dust lightly with flour, cover with a light dry towel and allow to bench rest for 1.5-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
9. Score the loaves right down the middle, add a light spray of water to help make a good crust, and bake at 400º F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. You may rotate loaves about half way through.

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