The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cuban Bread

GermanFoodie's picture

Cuban Bread

A staple in Cuban society, Cuban bread is not very much known in the Midwest. A few select places may sell Cuban sandwiches, but many times with a wholesale version of the bread which does not even come close to the original. Similar in style to French or Italian bread, traditional Cuban bread is made with all-white bread flour. The main difference is that the recipe calls for lard or alternatively, vegetable shortening. Instead of slashing the loaf before baking, a palm frond is placed on the bread, which leaves an indentation and is removed before eating. 

We used to make Cuban bread at the shop on full-length baguette pans. As a residential oven will not hold a loaf of bread this long, I had to resort to French bread pans, about half a sheet in length. Also, the crust turned out darker and more blistered than in our commercial ovens back then. My family did not care; they inhaled it just the same. Besides, THESE loaves looked prettier than the uniform, lighter crust we used to produce. :)

Basic Cuban Bread

876 g bread flour
462 g water
92 g poolish
18 g yeast
16 g sugar
57 g lard or liquid shortening
18 g salt

Prepare bread dough, let rise until doubled. Preheat oven to 400 F. Shape dough into two batards the length of a half sheet or French bread pan. Proof on pan, score straight down the middle. Bake for 30 minutes or until the bread’s interior is about 200 F; steaming at the beginning.

Maverick's picture

I used to live in the Florida Keys and there was a Cuban food place that had great bread that I used to love to eat with honey. Your description and pictures bring back that memory. I might have to try this recipe. Do you find a big difference when using lard vs. shortening? Also, could you use Crisco instead of liquid shortening? Or would veg oil work better?

Now I am craving their black beans and rice. I am normally not a fan of beans, but I loved it there.

GermanFoodie's picture

Lard is the "real" thing and to me tastes better. Liquid shortening is only the next best thing. The fats have to be liquid to work them into the dough properly, so I'm not sure if Crisco would do it unless you melt it. Oil works just fine as well. Let me know how it works out for you!

cranbo's picture

Thanks for sharing. There's another good thread about Cuban bread on TFL

Your comment about liquid shortening is interesting; I've always used solid shortening in making my breads, I should give it a shot and see how it changes the outcome. 

GermanFoodie's picture

it is not only at room temperature, but also so soft that it is practically liquid. Where you would cut solid butter into a dough in order to preserve some of the grease pockets to generate a laminating effect of sorts (think "flaky crust" for pies), here you only add it for flavor and the look it gives the crust.

hanseata's picture

Lard is also used in a lot of traditional German recipes, I wouldn't hesitate to use it.



GermanFoodie's picture

Es ist eine Unart, aus allem "lowfat" machen zu wollen. :)