The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cuban Bread

randyw41's picture

Cuban Bread

Hi Group, I'm new here, and for 10 years I've been trying to make authentic Cuban Bread. I've tried James Beards recipe, and countless others as well, but to no avail. To enlighten you on this wonderful bread, I've been told that the water in Tampa Florida, where every Tampa bakery makes 1000s of loaves on a daily basis, is different from the water everywhere else. I find this questionable, as I've had Cuban Bread in Miami Florida, which was pretty much the same as in Tampa, so I think the water theory is a load of bunk. With each new attempt I always end up with either a bread that looks and tastes like Italian Bread, or it comes out like a rustic loaf of French Bread. For those of you who've never had this wonderful bread, it has huge air pockets, is very very light in texture, with a crust that flakes almost like paper. It's the density thing I can't seem to achieve. The inside is always too tight - (The holes are too small). I need to get an inside texture, with large holes, and which is extremely light and dry.

I found a recipe, which I haven't tried yet, which calls for an over-night starter. Do you think this would help? Any suggestions would be great. I live in Indianapolis, and none of the bakeries here, have ever heard of this bread! If I could make this bread, I could open my own bakery in Indy, and just baking Cuban Bread would make me famous.

Thegreenbaker's picture

I have found preferments work wonderis with the taste and texture of the well as the crumb.


Try it with the overnight starter.



bwraith's picture

If you can get a hold of "Artisan Baking" by Maggie Glezer, I would try doing the ciabatta recipe. You will get a very good feel for preferments and handling in a bread that has a very airy crumb with lots of irregular big holes. Then, you could apply what you learn from that bread to making the pan cubano.

I think of pan cubano as somewhere between Italian bread and ciabatta. Some ciabatta recipes specify added olive oil, which is somewhat like the lard in pan cubano. The added lard is going to make it harder to get a very light hole filled crumb. However, the added sugar and yeast may help it to rise very quickly with irregular holes and offset the effect of the lard. I do think the preferments will change the texture of the dough and should contribute to irregular larger holes in the crumb. I notice a number of recipes on the internet for pan cubano specify a small amount of poolish (only about 1/12 of the flour of the whole recipe, which seems like not much to me), to be refrigerated overnight.

I would use AP flour and make sure the dough is a little wet - maybe not quite as wet as ciabatta dough should be, but more wet than french or italian bread, if you want a lighter, softer crumb with irregular large holes. If it's for sandwiches, it may make sense to bake at a fairly high temperature - around 500F - and with a totally dry oven. I've had a good thin, crispy crust on ciabattas intended for sandwiches similar to medianoches or cuban sandwiches doing it that way.

I recently did a blog entry on the site for a sourdough ciabatta that describes some of the procedures for "big holes". Also searching on ciabatta on this site would bring up plenty of ciabatta examples.

Steadam2011's picture

Cuban Water Bread
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup white sugar
4 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 (14 ounce) cans coconut milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons coconut extract
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut, divided
1/2 cup fresh coconut
1 (1 pound) loaf French bread, cut into 1 inch cubes

http :// cascadecoupon . ws

valeria333's picture

There is nothing Cuban about the water bread recipe.  The best cuban bread outsite of Cuba was made in Key West by Molina Bakery.  I'm not sure if the bakery is still there, but I grew up eating it in the 1950s. Neither Tampa's or Miami's comes close.

stuntbaker's picture

Found a picture of that bakery in the 50's:

RBosque's picture

That picture brings back some memories.  I worked there in the 1980's (see other post) but the bakery no longer exists.

RBosque's picture

There were two excellent Cuban bread bakeries in Key West: Rodriguez Bakery and Molina's Bakery.  I worked at both of them as a very young man since my family were owners of them both.  Let me explain.

Rodriguez Bakery was owned by Carmelo Rodriguez, who was one of my brother's father-in-law.  His head baker was Tomas Rodriguez (no relation).  Tomas was a true artist.  He never used the same recipe twice, but would vary the ingredients based on the temperature, humidity and whatever other magic was in the air.

When Carmelo became ill, another brother of mine bought Rodriguez Bakery and kept the name.  It was then that I started learning the business, as my brother wanted me to be his business partner and run the operation.  I baked bread, drove the delivery truck and worked as a salesman.

A few months later, the opportunity arose for a merger to take place between Rodriguez Bakery and Molina's Bakery.  The companies merged and Tomas Rodriguez, the head baker of Rodriguez Bakery, became the head baker of Molina's Bakery.  I stayed on and sold Cuban bread and rolls from Key West to Islamorada, delivering fresh bread every day for a while, until I decided to pursue a different career, went to college, etc.

Here's what I can tell you about making Cuban bread.  The ingredients were simple.  Unbleached flour, water, sugar, lard (later changed to vegetable shortening but lard gave the bread a better flavor and texture), yeast and salt.  A piece of rolled banana leaf was baked atop each loaf for years until a decision was made to stop doing that.  It's too bad, because the banana leaf gave the bread a nutty flavor that made the bread excellent.

All the ingredients were put in a large mixer until the head baker thought the dough was ready, then, bakers would roll and fold them, push them down with their forearms and repeat that process a few times, shaping them into balls of dough.

After the dough were shaped, they were placed on "latas" (huge flat cookie sheets) and put in a steam room which was nothing more than a tin shed inside the building with a pot of boiling water on the floor.  There, the dough would rise until the head baker thought it was time to take them out.  Then, the dough balls were shaped into loaves by hand, the banana leaf placed on top of the loaves, and they were baked to perfection in large fuel-oil ovens.

When the loaves came out, they were super-hot, crispy and absolutely delicious.  We'd have fresh butter on hand and spread butter on the loaves which would melt instantly into the bread.  We always had cafe con leche (Cuban coffee with hot milk) while the loaves cooled down enough to be placed into paper bags for delivery.

I've never had Cuban bread as good as that since.

Hooke's picture

I am a writer and interested in the Molinas.  If you'd be interested in talking, I will send you an email address.

Peter Beckles's picture
Peter Beckles

The bit on topping the dough with banana leaf attracted my eye. In my youth in Trinidad & Tobago a loaf we called "hops bread" was what everybody ate. It was very light, round - about 7.5 to 9 cm across - flaky crisp on the outside with large spaces inside. The dough balls were placed on banana leaves and oven baked. My chore was going to Mendonca's bakery every morning to purchase hops bread for breakfast. What is sold for hops bread today is not at all like the hops bread that I remember. Some time ago I visited a Cuban restaurant on US1 in Miami. The bread served with the meal was this amazing loaf flaky crisp on the outside with large holes inside. It was rectangular though - about 15cm x 7.5mm x 20mm thick - and I swear that it was the hops bread that I remembered from my youth. If anyone has a reduced recipe let me know.

Richard L Walker's picture
Richard L Walker

I'm not proud.  If you get a recipe you really like, PLEASE SHARE.  lol

I'll have it with some chicken, yellow rice and black beans.

cleo3's picture

Randy mentioned that the cuban bread in Miami is pretty much the same as the Tampa cuban bread.  This shows me that Randy really doesn't know about authentic cuban bread.  The real cuban bread is only in Tampa.  Miami cuban bread is not even close to the flavor and texture of the Tampa bread. I learned to make the Tampa cuban bread at a cuban bread bakery in Tampa several summers ago.  They used a special formula for the flour produced by Cargill in Minnesota.  Don't discount the Tampa water as the distinctive difference.  I've heard the same thing, and I'm beginning to believe its the water.

randyw41's picture

Having lived in both cities, Miami and Tampa, I think I can give a qualified opinion on the differences between Cuban bread made in Miami or in Tampa.

The differences aren't all that different. If you made Cuban bread in Tampa, at a Tampa Bakery? How about sharing the recipe with the rest of us?

Richard L Walker's picture
Richard L Walker

He could tell you ... but then he'd have to kill you.  (that is a joke for the politically correct)  I'm fairly certain that neither Miami nor Tampa has a single recipe for Cuban bread.  I would also be fairly certain that both locations probably have places that turn out less than wonderful Cuban bread.  I do second the motion for posting a good recipe ... regardless where it came from.  Oh, and if the restaurant made Cuban coffee ... I wouldn't mind getting that recipe either ... even if it isn't a bread.

rtoledo2002's picture

     Hi Randy I was just watching TV and got this nasty craving for my beloved Cuban Bread and once again I went and searched to see if I can get my wife to make some and found this  amusing thread, and being a Cuban that is crazy about breads well I just had to.

    I agree with you that the water has minimal influence on bread, it has more on beverages IMO. 


    When I was 5 years old I remeber waking up each day and sitting on the front door as dad walked up the block to his sisters house/business  she was married to this Gallego that owned a bakery , they produced tons of bread and soda crackers my other obssesion to this day.  they had old brick ovens for doing the bread and that to me always made a difference and heard my uncle say so too.


 I will spare you the rest of that but since you seem to love that bread ONLY PORK LARD  will do to make the ultimate recepie, I know that this will invoke violent reactions from todays generation including my darling wife ;) , but you can't make a good ommlette without those yokes ;).


   Last I will tell you about my favorite Cuban Bread recepie, it made as usual but as the massa is rolled up into a roll chunks of freshly cooked pork rinds are put into it, and then baked as usual  yum yum.


I have eaten lots of FRENCH bread here in Los Angeles , but once in a while I drive to Downey and buy Cyban bread at this bakery, and low and behold saw them once making it fresh, taking the frozen dough out of these containers that look like ice cream tubs,  YES  they get it from that Jaguey bakery in Miami.


oh and don't get me going on Cuban Crackers or soda crackers,  my uncle ruined me for life  and now as a type 2 diabetic all I can do is dream or walk 100 block to burn off a piece of bread.


I'm going to see if the wife will make me some, she's the best cuban cook I've ever know m even if she was born in Torrance.

love this thread!!!


suzipurpleroses's picture

Hey Randy!  just became a member, and saw your query about Cuban Bread....having lived in Tampa, I can only hipe that you've been to the Columbia Restaurant!!!!!   I am addicted to this jewel and can say for certain, that the Bakery they buy their bread from definitly uses the "starter" method.......try it!  Enjoy!   Suzi

tattooedtonka's picture

My last home was in Hollywood,FL located smack dab between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami.  And I can safely say there are a TON of Cubans that reside in the area.  There foods and culture are everywhere, and you have trouble doing business at times if you dont know spanish.  I know this because, I do not know spanish, and have had issues.  Good thing my wife does because I love their foods, the sandwiches, the flattened chicken with onions and lime, with black beans, etc. It is all great food... 

My point is, I do not think I could make a statement about not being true Cuban Bread, when there are so many actual Cubans there making it.  And they probly arent importing their flours from Minnesota...With that line of thinking, do the real cubans import Tampa water to Cuba to make their bread "Authentic"?

Just something to think about...


bluezebra's picture


Hi you've probably already found this recipe and lord knows wikipedia isn't the alpha and omega on inet information but it had some cool history on the history of authentic cuban bread.

They seem to say it's the lard that makes the difference in the bread texture. I would tend to believe this especially since that culture and quisine uses/used lard as a primary source of oil/fat in the diet.

I think this looks like a really interesting recipe.

Would love to hear how it turned out!

rtoledo2002's picture

Quite right, my uncle used to travel to the Carolina's in the early 1950's to buy prize pigs and breed them, I remember one that was as big as a 1 year old calf.


anyways after killing it, it rendered over 7  5 gallon containers of fat.  the whole family cooked with it for almost a year.  had to mske it last in the late 1960's  (no food)

Trialer70's picture

I have  used the recipe from this site and it comes out very well.  Yes, it's not very "healthy-correct" with the use of lard, but I used lard and it tastes and acts much better.  I agree with refrigerating the dough as well.  It gives a much better taste to the finished product.  I do not have access to the right kind of palm fronds for the top "dent" but the use of soaked kitchen string works just fine and gives a good dent on top.  I made a batch and took it with us last year on a camping trip and it not only lasted well but made awesome sandwiches.

cleo3's picture

Perhaps I should have chosen my words more carefully.  Rather than proclaiming that the Tampa cuban brean is the most authentic, I should have said that it is simply the best when compared to cuban breads of other areas.  It has a different flavor, texture, and aroma when compared to other cuban breads found in other areas of Florida, and the southeast US. 

It is true that the Cuban community in Tampa preceded the flood of Cubans to the Miami area by over 50 years due to the development of cigar industry in the Ybor City section of Tampa. beginning in the late 1800's.  Perhaps their techniques, ingredients, and methods of preparation have contributed to distinguishing the Tampa product from elsewhere.  And yes, it might also be the water in Tampa.

If you have a chance to visit Tampa, get a few loaves of cuban bread from Mauricio Faedo's Cuban Bread Bakery.   Compare it for yourself.  His bakery does it right !! 

A video of his cuban bread bakery in action can be seen by doing a Google search entitled:  Mauricio Faedo cuban bread video.  You will be able to see the method better than I can describe.



randyw41's picture

I watched the video you mentioned. It was really neat. But things happen really fast, almost too fast to get an idea of the techniques used in making this bread. One thing I noticed near the end of the video, was how the guy making the bread, would use his forearm to flatten it out, then he would roll it up. It was almost like making a cinnamon roll. I'm gonna try again and see what happens. I also found a website which listed the general ingredients for Cuban bread. Here's an excerpt of the article.

The distinctive loaves arrive from La Segunda Central, the only Cuban bakery in Ybor's historic district. Raymond More uses the peasant bread recipe his grandfather brought from Spain. ''He fought in the Spanish-American War, then came to Tampa and started making bread around 1915. It's very basic, just water, flour, yeast, salt, shortening and sugar.

And here's a link to the complete article:

caroty2007's picture

There is a place where you can by frozen dough already ready for baking to make Cuban Bread.  This place is called Jaguey Bakery and it is located in Miami.  They have been in business for over 50 years.  I know this becaue I dated one of the sons from this bakery 30 years ago.  Contact them and you can start your bakery business in Indy sooner then you think.  They also sell the many different types of pastries.  They are the wholesalers for bakeries.   I plan on relocating to Indy and would love to have a cuban bakery and cuban restaurant to go to.

Murals4kidz's picture

I read your comment and it freaked me out. I dated the one of the Now sons of the Owners of Jaguey Bakery in Miami for 5 years. This was 8 years ago but since you said 30 years ago it has to be the fathers of the sons that are now Alive. Which son did you date there was only two boys and the rest were girls. This is soo cool. LOL

E-mail me at


mariana's picture

Hi Randy,

 I can give you recipies of two varieties of cuban bread (both from Cuba), the way we baked it in cuban bakeries there. It is very similar to the ones I tasted in different locations in Florida. Cuban bakers don't call it Pan Cubano, they call it Pan Criollo or Pan de Esponja Criollo.

 The amounts are rather large, for bakeries. For home baking, reduce appropriately.

 The method is the same, only quantities and length of fermentation differs a bit.  Formula I is for 10 lbs of flour, and Formula II is for 5 lbs of flour.

I. Sponge stage:

6 lbs hard wheat flour

2 oz fresh yeast

3.5 lbs water

Ferment for 4 hours at room temperature.

 Dough stage:

4 lbs flour

1.5 oz salt

2 lbs water

3/4 lbs lard

Put sponge in the machine (mixer), add water, mix well, so that looks soupy. Next, add flour, mix until moistened, incorporate lard. Knead until smooth, take out of the mixing bowl and cut into 6 pieces, 1 lb each, per baking sheet. Form loaves, proof for 2.5 hrs and bake in a moderately hot oven.


II. Sponge:

3 lbs flour

1.5 lbs warm water

2.5 oz fresh yeast

Dissolve yeast in warm water, add flour, beat on 1st speed until smooth. Let ferment for 3 hours.  Add

2 lbs flour, 1lb water, 1 oz salt, 8oz lard (rendered from fresh pork fat). Knead. Let ferment for 1.5 hours. 14oz per loaf portions.

 Also, you can try this americal version of Cuban bread, formula developed for professional bakers:


bluezebra's picture

differences is in the lard!!!

Isn't another big difference in how you actually shape the loaf and in the oven itself that cooks it since the our home ovens are so much shorter!!!!

Thanks so much for these recipes!!! I can't want to hear your reply!



Hector now I just read your input. Sigh. Ok so maybe it isn't the lard...but you mention the shaping! :D So...

Hector's picture

I always thought it was the lard too but I was looking right at the La Segunda paper bag (that you get when the loaves are still hot) and it says partially hydrogenated soybean oil. But others bakeries list lard in the ingredients clear as day.

This bleached wheat flour with barley malt is not what I've been using either. Maybe a flour expert could get us on course. 

I also think shaping is key. Also the amont of yeast and rise time. When I let it rise like I would regular bread it gets way too big. 



bluezebra's picture

La Segunda were made in Heaven by St. Peter himself, with Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil = transfats. I would not be eating it. :(  That totally sucks. Transfats to date (with the scientific reports) is the ONLY fat that has a directe corelation (dosage correlation) with plaque buildup and heart disease. Not even cholesterol has that type of effect.

So I stopped transfats cold turkey as soon as I read about that...I think it was in the Mary Enig book "Know Your Fats", she is  a leading researcher and research scientist involved with fat metabolism and the field of nutrition.

<end threadjack (t/j)>

Hector's picture

 You lost me. Do I know you? Why would I care if you would eat at La Segunda or not. Are you even in Tampa?


Hector's picture

Here’s my take on the elusive Cuban bread. I make a lot of bread but am NOT a bread expert by any means. But like the OP I have spent a lot of time trying to replicate the sort of Cuban bread I like. My dad’s house was just down from La Segunda and I wouldn’t be surprised if I had actually eated a days worth of their bread in my lifetime (6k loaves, heh). Nowadays I live up near Cincinnati so I have had to learn to make it myself or do without. Just not a reality, heh.


A few thoughts.

- If someone tells you there is no difference between Miami and Tampa Cuban bread just ignore them. Tampa bread is almost always longer and thinner and the texture and taste are different. Both are great, just different. I lived in Tampa 40 years so that’s my preference.

- -Forget the word ‘authentic’. There are so many different ‘authentic’ Cuban bread bakeries and recipes its ridiculous. Even the popular bakeries, Faedo’s, La Segunda, Casino etc use different ingredients.

- IMO a day old starter is key. La Segunda has said they use a ‘scrap of yesterdays dough’.

 - - Everyone will tell you lard is THE key. Complete nonsense. La Segunda Central doesn’t even use lard, they use soybean oil. Many other popular Tampa bakeries DO use lard however. In fact I am in Tampa right now and was at La Segunda this morning. After trying lot of recipes most (like Beards) are total crap. Its like when you get a Cuban outside of either the Tampa/Miami area where they don’t have the slightest idea how to make the sandwich or the bread.

- - Also La Segunda doesn’t use a regular unbleached AP or bread flour. They use an enriched BLEACHED wheat flour that includes malted barley flour


- I don’t have my recipe with my on the road but if anyone is interested in discussing I can be reached on my blog KitchenWarfare dot com. I think the one you found with the starter is similar. I have gotten great results with it taste wise but like the OP says the texture is the tricky bit.

Richard L Walker's picture
Richard L Walker

Discuss?  Please post your recipe and I'll give it a go.  I'd rather eat than discuss.  But that might just be me.  lol

bluezebra's picture

I was making a comment of disappointment about the fact that La Segunda, such a notable player in the Pan Cubano arena, uses transfats in their bread. I was also trying to give some good information to the wonderful posters here I have come to view as family.

And no, I've never really heard of you prior to this post. So I don't know why I would idiotically and illogically care whether you spend your day mainlining transfats or eating loaf after loaf at La Segunda. Knock yourself out!

And no I am not in Tampa.

 Thanks for setting me straight though, I will be certain to stay out of this thread and any others of yours in future. God speed to you.

Hector's picture

>>So I don't know why I would idiotically and illogically care whether you spend your day mainlining transfats or eating loaf after loaf at La Segunda.


I don't know why you would either. Hence the question.  

Floydm's picture

Wha... ? Zebra? You alright? Someone even mentions transfats and you go off on them? Everyone is entitled to their own dietary restrictions, but I don't see where Hector said anything that should cause you to "stay out of this thread and any others of yours in future". He's passing on what he knows about it. Mellow out.

mariana's picture

Hi Bluezebra.


Cuban bread, just like French bread, can be made longer or shorter, although the diameter of the loaf will stay more or less the same. It's a very dry dough, actually, probably because humidity in the air is so high in the areas where it is baked, it softens considerably as it ferments. And it is not slashed.  The oven is never steamed either. The loaves are baked on hearth, but not directly on the stone. They are placed on large metal sheets, like cookie  sheets. 


Lard is the fat of choice, although if none is available, bakers would use shortening. In any case, fat should be solid at room temperature, to give Cuban bread its typical crumb.  Butter or oil are never used in bread formula.


The process itself, if cyclical and looks easy in a bakery. A sponge is mixed either at the end of the shift or at midnight . At midnight a designated baker comes to mix the final dough and let it undergo first fermentation (in bulk), and to start preparing the brick oven.


 Then at 4AM the rest of the crew arrives to shape loaves and begin baking them to sell 99% of bread  fresh, fresh, fresh, in stores from 6 to 9 AM approximately. Cubans just have to have a piece of fresh Cuban bread with butter and coffee with boiled milk (cafe con leche) for breakfast. It's extremely typical, a tradition. They don't serve bread with other meals, but will snack on it or use leftovers in cuban bread pudding.


14oz loaves easily fit in my oven, on my baking stone, BlueZebra. Not a problem. This bread is absolutely amazing for sandwiches, Cuban sandwiches with pork+ham+cheese, or with fresh cheese+guava marmelade.  The simplest and the most popular bread snack is pan cubano split open, drizzled with oil, smothered with chopped garlic and sprinkled with salt (pan con ajo, a.k.a. garlic bread cuban style). Terrific taste.

bluezebra's picture

I copied the recipe and this last entry to try it soon!!

Hector's picture

In my experience the Miami loaves are often much shorter and wider and more dense in texture than Tampa loaves. The recipe with the starter on taste of cuba is clearly a miami loaf. Its short and stout and not flattened and rolled like Tampa loaves. If you watch the Faedo video that shows the Tampa style the difference is very noticable.

bluezebra's picture

about transfats. I apologize if I came off that way. My rant was directed at La Segunda only. Not at Hector!

So I give information about transfats, again not at Hector, and he comes back and slaps me. So I react. I'm human. I'm also probably way more edgy in the last few months than I normally am, so again, my apologies. *sigh*

Richard L Walker's picture
Richard L Walker

[So I give information about transfats, again not at Hector, and he comes back and slaps me.]

He slaped you? Not the way I read it. ... and like you, he reacted. He's human.

Now I need a recipe for Cuban bread.


Hector's picture

After watching the Faedo video (thanks for that!) I think a lot of the 'fluffiness' could well come from the way its being formed (as was said, like cinnamon roles). The Maimi bread that I have seen made is not folded like that but is just formed up like French bread.

As for the water I have my doubts. The city water in Tampa is horrible and filled with chlorine. OTOH we also have a well so I am brought back about 10 gallons of FL well water just in case (plus its great).

I did a starter last night so today I am going to attempt to form it as is in the video. Right now I have about 10 loaves of La Segunda's that I brought back with me so now is the time to experiement and make comparisons.

As it is I had not been back to Tampa since I started experimenting with making my own cuban bread so when I got my first loaf of La Segunda's I was curious as to how much 'better' theirs would be. To my great surprise I think the taste of mine is just about right. But the texture is just too 'bready', ie too many bubbles and not enough of the cotton like texture.

I also just sliced a loaf of La Segunda's lengthwise and with theirs the cotton texture is apparent in the center of the loaf but the parameter is more bubbliy like mine is all the way through. Now where you would make this adjustment is what I DO NOT KNOW.

Floydm's picture

Slap? What are you talking about, Zebra? Go back and read Hector's comments again. He was, understandably, confused because when he posted valuable information about authentic Cuban Bread you replied with a dietary freak out, but he didn't slap you.

As a general principle, please don't greet new site members providing valuable information with a rant.

Hector's picture

In your defense I would agree with that, I don’t feel you were going off on me personally. BUT what you were doing was interrupting a conversation about how to make good Cuban bread to spread your own personal agenda about transfats and how it sucks that you now won’t be able to eat at a bakery that you never heard of in a city you don’t live in. You knew you were doing this because you stated you were ‘thread jacking’. If you have an inclination to share an off topic thought (such as your militant opinion on transfats) then you should find a thread on that topic or start one of your own.

Maybe you could better understand a real life example. If a group of people are standing around talking about their favorite bakery and how to make their goods and you walk up and say ‘excuse me for interrupting but I think the food your are talking about is unhealthy and I wouldn’t eat it’ that would be pretty rude wouldn’t it?

If you want to share or learn about the topic at hand then I expect any comments or questions would be welcome, but by the same token when you enter a thread just to lay a big turd in it no one is going to welcome that.

Floydm's picture

I agree with you fully. Your comments were totally helpful to anyone actually interested in good Cuban bread. Zebra's were not.

I haven't been to Florida in 20 years and there isn't much of a Cuban population in the Pacific Northwest, so I'm totally ignorant here. It sounds wonderful though.

Thanks for joining the site.

Hector's picture

Zebra and i just got off to a bad start. Apologies to all for my part in that.

Anyway I've just started a batch using the old recipe but now forming up the loaves like is shown in the Faedo video. That entire clip is invaluable becasue its shows the texture of the dough they are working with and how differently they form their loaves (than I thought). I noticed when I went to form my loaves I had to work the dough a bit more than they did to get it elongated. Mine tends to pull back together while theirs holds its shape far easier.


So while those loaves are rising I'm going to start on the 'Flay' version. Interesting that the water is ice cold.

Update: First loaves are out using the method of forming loaves in the video. The inside is closer to what we're looking for. Bubbles are bigger but still not quite as large and varied as the actual La Segunda sample. Also the loaf did not explode in size using this method and is closer to the size of the thinner Tampa loaves. However the crust is way too soft tho so I may crank up the heat. 350 seems a cool oven compared to other recipes.

What's also very interesting about the Flay version is that there are 3 rises instead of two. Still on the first rise with that batch so it will be awhile.


Oven was too cool first run.

Hector's Pan CubanoHector's Pan Cubano


Hector's picture

Here's a visual comparison between todays effort and a loaf from La Segunda.

Here's a top and a bottom from each. La Segunda's is on the bottom.


our effort compared to La Segunda'sour effort compared to La Segunda's

Hector's picture

Ok I've been tinkering with this all day. I've got about 30 loaves of Cubano although not all good ones. I've tasted it so much I really need to take a break just to get my bearings.

Here's the result of the best effort so far which is a takeoff of the over simplified version La Segunda gave to Food Network but in this case I'm using a starter which we know La Segunda has said they do (i.e 'a piece of yesterdays dough').

La Segunda is on the left, our latest is on the right. You can see the crust is nice and flaky. The interior is just a little too doughy, I need more starter to test my theory so I'll give this another go in the morning.

)Hector's Pan Cubano Take 12 :)


AnnieT's picture

Hector, what a very gracious comment, and welcome to The fresh Loaf. I like it much better when there are no raised voices, A

mariana's picture


Hector, you are getting very close to your goal. Your loaves already look very good and I am sure will do just fine in sandwich cubano. I admire your persistence and can't wait for the final batch, to see how it looks and its recipe. Your efforts will pay off.


Thank you for the pictures of your experiments. I find them illuminating. Also, please, post some images of La Segunda's crumb for us to see what you are striving to achieve. OK?

Hector's picture

In the light of day I think we’re really close. I made some Cuban toast this morning using La Segunda and our loaves and its pretty darn good.

One of the challenges is that there is no ‘authentic’ Cuban bread per se. My grandfather lived on 26th ave (just down from La Segunda) but when my dad moved away and got married my mother bought Casino Bakery’s bread because that’s what they carried at Kash and Karry (Tampa grocery). Both are classic Tampa bakeries. So are Alessi’s and Faedo’s. All of these versions are different but still are clearly (to any Tampan) ‘authentic’ Cuban bread. How could they not be? Each bakery has been making Cubano over several generations.

For example some bakeries (including La Segunda) don’t use (or maybe no longer) use lard. Some bakeries still do because its clearly marked on the label. In my efforts here I’ve found that I prefer the taste of the bread with lard, it seems to give the bread a slightly better taste and texture for me. This is where I think your mileage will vary based on your particular favorite bakery version.

And this is just in Tampa mind you. Miami version is another thing altogether although I think now that the biggest difference there is mostly in how the loaves are formed but it DOES seem to make a big difference in the texture.

Here are a few pictures of my innards. Shown are a heel and center piece from a La Segunda loaf and our (best) loaf.

Ours are on the RIGHT.

Finally starting to get the irregular pattern of bubbling.

I want to try one more thing on a batch today and then I'll post the details.


our efforts (on the right) compared to La Segunda's our efforts (on the right) compared to La Segunda's


New2Bread's picture

Hi Hector:

What type of flour are you using?  Looking at the texture of your bread (in your pictures).  Maybe the type of flour is what is making the difference between your cuban bread and La Segunda's.  You need a Hi-Gluten Flour. Mills sell special blends for Cuban Bread (at least in Florida).  I work at a wholesale food distributor in Miami and we sell Hi-Gluten Flour. Customers use it for making Cuban Bread. 

randyw41's picture

Hi Hector,

Looks like you're getting really close, a lot closer than I've been able to come to making authentic Pan Cubano. I made some Focaccia Bread the other night, and it was a hit. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping you pull this off. We have a lot of posters, who'd be forever in your debt, if you can make the real Pan Cubano.

Talk at you later.

Randy W...

Hector's picture


Anyone want to take a shot and let me know how it comes out for you? .

If you want to read the full article with pictures its on my blog Kitchen Warfare (and I linked back here).

But here is everything you need to know to make the bread. This is basically a combination of the TOC starter, La Segunda's public home version, what I learned from talking to a person at La Segunda last week and what we learned from watching the video that cleo3 found of Faedo's. That was huge at least for me.

This is by far the most complex recipe I have ever tried to write so any suggestions to make this better are appreciated.


Kitchen Warfare Cuban Bread (Tampa Style)

(This recipe requires a starter so to bake tomorrow you have to start today)

Starter (enough for two batches)

3/4 tsp yeast

1/3 cup warm water

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Dissolve the yeast in the water in a NON-metallic bowl and let foam for a few minutes. Then add the flour and mix into a paste. Cover with plastic wrap and let mature for 24 hours.

Make the Dough

2 cups ice water

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 oz lard

1 oz yeast

½ of the starter

1 1/2+ lb AP flour

You’ll also need a few feet of string soaking in water (chances are if you’re having to make your Cubano you’re no where near palmetto plants).


In a mixer bowl (w/ dough hook) combine the ice water, salt, sugar, lard, yeast and half the starter.

Add the flour and knead until very smooth. Add more flour as is necessary to pull the dough together and it no longer sticks to the bowl. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled. This dough can take longer than what you may be used to, 60-90 minutes depending on your conditions.

Punch down and knead again for a few minutes until smooth. Personally I just toss it back and knead with the hook for a few minutes. Cover and allow to rise again until doubled. This rise is usually quicker than the first but just let it go until doubled.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces.

To form the loaves-

This is THE crucial step. Flatten the piece of dough with a few slaps of your hand (do not roll it out or press it). Fold it in half and flatten it again. Then roll it up fairly tight like a cinnamon roll. The length of each loaf depends on the size of your flat pan/oven but the key is that it should only be about an 1.25-1.5 inches in diameter. Again this is a key step. If you do not get this part right you’ll end up with a big poofy Miami style bread. Good, but not the same as Tampa’s style.

Once the loaves are formed immediately place a doubled length of string along the top of each loaf and ever so gently push it down into the dough. Very gently. This is another very crucial step. Skip this step and you’ll end up with a sort of poofed up Cuban hoagie roll that even a Miamian won’t eat ☺.

Once you have them on the pan with the string, let them rise a 3rd time for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 400.

Bake loaves about 20-30 minutes until golden brown and tapping on the loaves gives a hollow sound.

Remove the string and enjoy!


The 3rd rise is really crucial. If you let the formed loaves puff up you won’t get the tighter Tampa style. They rise quite a bit while baking so just let them rise slightly once you form the loaves and add the string.

Oven temp is also crucial. If they cook too slow you won’t get the crisp flaky crust. If they cook too fast then the interior will be doughy (not done). 400 degrees for about 20 minutes works for me. If you’ve done everything else right and the crust is soft like a hoagie roll the oven is likely too cool.

Of course there are many variables in the flour and yeast used and humidity and temps where you live. You may have to adjust rise times esp if you see them puffing up bigger than you know Tampa bread should be. I expect it will take a few tries to get it the way you want it.

If when you taste it something seems ‘missing’ or different in the taste compared to the bread you’re used to its likely the lard. Some Tampa bakeries use it and some do not. This recipe uses a moderate amount. I’ve toyed with a little more and a little less. About 1 tablespoon more gives it a distinct flavor that’s a little more salty. I often prefer that if I know its going to be eaten alone. If I know its mostly going to be for Cuban sandwiches or served with a meal then I use the recipe as written. If you don't like the taste you can use shortening or even oil. At one time this would have been considered an act of heresy but not all bakeries do any more it seems. For me tho lard is a must. Old school don't ya know.



ehanner's picture

Hector your blog link isn't working. Do you have the updated pictures available somewhere? This is such a great body of work I'd like to keep up with it. Thanks!


mr_geronimo's picture

For those that are interested, this is the correct link to Hector's work:

Hector, you are to be commended for your persistence and efforts. Thanks for shedding some light on the mystery (what appears to be a simple and straight-forward bread to make, but deceivingly complex).

At least it's a challenge.

Super job Hector!

(I unofficially represent the Miami Cuban bread contingent. Born and raised there, I had lived in Miami for over 40 years, and am presently battling to re-create the bread that I've enjoyed all of my life. I'm sure that the Miami and Tampa breads are equally good. I'd be happy if I could replicate either, so I'd be able to share with friends at work.)


richard schillen's picture
richard schillen


Thanks for the recipe and all the work you have done. It's amazing. Finally I am able to make excellent Cuban bread that is the real thing. The lard and the starter are key, I think. One thing, though, on the video of the bakery they put the palmetto leaf on the loaf and turn it over. Is it baked in that position or do they turn in over after it rises? Appreciate all your help, hermano.


Hector's picture

 >>> One thing, though, on the video of the bakery they put the palmetto leaf on the loaf and turn it over. Is it baked in that position or do they turn in over after it rises? Appreciate all your help, hermano.
That's a good question Richard, I noticed this too.  Honestly I still don't know the answer. All I can say with any certainty is that I tried to bake them with the string on the bottom and it was a mess and didn't split like the traditional loaves at all.

But I think you’re into an area where we have an issue. If you look at the pictures what you will notice from the image of the La Segunda heel is that only a small portion of their dough is browned/touching the pan and on mine all of it is. So if nothing else their dough is standing up better. I haven't baked a loaf over the summer but when I get back to baking in the Fall (kinda here isn't it?) I really want to address this because I think it’s a big part of why the texture still isn't quite right on 'my' version. 

If anyone wants to take a shot at this, mine is tending to lay flat like my dough is melting before it bakes (analogy). Theirs tends to be more like a rounded breadstick.

On the surface that would seem to mean that our dough should be stiffer but if you watch the video their dough seems to be very pliable to me.

What we really need at this point is a more experienced baker who could look at both versions to see what we're missing. 


hansent's picture

Well, as a new reader, I was relieved to get to the bottom of this discussion without much mud :-) Both of my uncles (brothers) were bakers in Cuba and brought their talents to the states where I occaisionaly got to sample their wonderful work. We always lived away from them in the midwest so I didn't get to spend nearly enough time with them.  Both of them have passed on now and I wish I had gotten their recipies.  Their recipe for bread pudding made from cuban bread was unparalleled.  So the lesson in all of this is get the recipe while they are alive!  I am excited to try this recipe and get a taste of my childhood.

Thanks for doing all the research!

randyw41's picture

OK, so this newest recipe looks like we might be getting somewhere. My question is about the procedure during the forming of the loaves. You state that you smack it down, then fold it in half, then flatten down and then roll it up, like making a cinnamon roll. I guess I'm asking about the flattening down part. How many times do you do this, before rolling it up and shaping it into loaves?

Randy W... 

Hector's picture

Basically I am trying to explain what we can see in the Faedo video. They flatten it once with their arm, I just patted it a few times. Then it seems they have like a little pizza dough that they fold it half, then flatten again then roll it up.

In short my explanation probably stinks, but I am just doing what they are doing in the video. It has made all the difference in getting the fluffy interior, or at least seems to have.


zolablue's picture

I can't tell you how much I appreciate your efforts on this.  I've never tasted Cuban bread before but am so intrigued.  My neighbors went on vacation to Florida last winter and raved about the Cuban bread.  I'm going to make your recipe.

Hector's picture

Thank you for the kind words. Please let us know how it turns out.

BTW Randy et al I have updated the article on KW to include some pictures that show how I'm forming the loaves.


lisah's picture

Hi all,

We lived in Tampa for about 20 years and I know what you mean about how wonderful Cuban bread is.  We went back last winter to visit and stopped in Ybor City and visited a cuban bakery there.  I spoke with the baker and he said his dough is a straight dough.  He uses dry yeast with no preferment.  He uses shortning (i.e. Solid Crisco).  His bread was excellent!

So upon my return home, I experimented.  I used a basic french dough recipe, with a 70% hydration and a baker's couche.  The result was pretty good.  Note, traditional Cuban bread is baked with a palm frawn laid over the top with no slashing. I think the couche helped make the difference.  I dried out the exterior, but left the interior moist which helped develop larger holes.

Hope this is helpful.

michalraise's picture

Interesting post. I heard rumor that the owner of La Segunda has no family members interested in taking over the bakery after he retires. It will be a loss to many.


Cuban Cigars


MISSiShrimpi's picture

Help with Cuban Bread Please

I’ve just read a website ( and am very grateful for their site and help and introducing me to this site.. That said I need Help Big Time Please. My bread sucks. I followed the directions but my bread is too coarse/heavy/mealy. It has no crispness or flake to it. It gets hard on outside and sounds hollow BUT it is terrible. I don’t have a mixer so I kneed by hand, could this be the problem? I DO use the string but may I ask very friendly (and ignorantly) what does it do or what is it for? I am very serious about trying to make great Cuban bread as it should be but having no luck whatsoever. Please, can anyone help? Any ideas what things I am doing wrong. In the video it looks like they slap the dough around a lot, maybe mine is not tight/stretchy enough. I think that may be the case. How do I get it that way? One side note, I am in Las Vegas for awhile and the air here is very dry. Could that have anything to do with it? If so I can turn on a humidifier but need advice please. Hope we can return the favor for your help.
No Bread in Vegas LOL.

mrfrost's picture

I think the string just keeps the strip of dough moist, keeping it from setting too soon, allowing for loaf(rolls) to expand. I believe slashing would serve the same purpose.

Is this your first attempt at baking breads? How have attempts with other types of breads turned out?

It would be awfully lucky to get a respectable pan cubano, baguette, ciabatta, etc, on the first or second attempt.  It usually takes a little practice. Try some simpler recipes first, maybe. Some straight dough recipes, which don't have starters, preferments, etc.

For the heaviness and coarseness, sounds like you are not kneading enough/effectively to develope the gluten. The type flour you are using too might be an issue. Might try using bread flour. Also, sometimes the breads may seem a little hard when they first come out of the oven, then soften as they cool and the moisture stabilizes.

I just started baking bread myself. I visit the King Arthur Flour web site a lot. I follow a lot of the blogs/tutorials they present there. They have good pictures and descriptions of how the dough should look/feel as you progress through the recipe.

They have a cuban bread recipe. It's probably not some peoples idea of real cuban bread, but if you follow the tutorial it will still be pretty good, and perfectly edible as you gain experience. I think the cuban breads that use much lard/shortening in the recipe will not stay crisp very long after they are taken out of the oven. The ones that stay crispier are probably more like a baguette and don't have lard/fat. If you are gonna make pressed sandwiches, the initial crispiness may not matter anyway.

KA Cuban recipe- These are kind of soft and fluffy, made for pressing. Use bread flour for a little more chew.



breadman1015's picture

I've always had good luck with this formula:

500 g Bread Flour
500 g Hi-Gluten Flour
2 tsp. Yeast
22 g Salt
10 g Diastatic Malt Powder
4 g Shortening
650 g Water
In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer with the paddle, combine the Water and Yeast. Allow to bloom for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and mix at low speed until a rough dough is formed, about 2 minutes. Replace the paddle with the dough hook and knead at low speed for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and knead for 6 minutes. (Dough temperature should be 76°F.) Remove hook; cover with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 1 hour. Turn dough out onto bench, knead - by-hand - for 1 minute; cover; and bench rest for 1 hour. Divide the dough into thirds; round-up; cover; and bench rest 15 minutes. Form the dough into 12” long oblong loaves. Cover and proof until doubled, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Slit tops and bake, with steam, for 1 minute. Reduce temperature
to 350°F and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool completely.
NOTE: Authentic Cuban bread uses palmetto fronds to create a bloom on the top of the loaf. Palmetto fronds are soaked in water and then applied to the top of the loaf, pressing them into the surface. The loaves are proofed frond-side down and then reinverted
for baking. The moisture in the fronds causes the crust to split and the bread to bloom down the middle. The brown, dried-out fronds are left on the bread when sold to indicate authentic craftsmanship.

EvaB's picture

Have just stubled on the thread, in a notice from the site, its interesting, and different, but the bread really doesn't look that much different to what my mother used to bake, and she didn't have starter or whatever. What she did have was the same old bowl, with maybe some dried dough in from the last time she baked. She didn't set it raise more than once, and used regular flour, yeast and water (we had city water from a lake) and for lard she used bacon grease, she used that for everything that called for shortening or oil. Her bread had a very similar crumb to the last pictures that Hector showed, and was simply bread. The dough was a bit dry, because she had a dry house, the flour was dry, and she didn't measure anything, went by the look, and the feel.

As to the comment on the water, I do think it might make a bit of difference, depending on how much hardness it has, I use rain water or snow water, or demineralized bought water ( the water is not the best around here) so use a soft water, and I get great bread (having just started baking it) but can't be bothered with bread I have to knead several times, or work more than just the five minute a day, this is because my arms and shoulders simply won't take the abuse. So the theory as to the shaping of the loaves might also have some bearing, because as my mother aged and couldn't knead the bread for as long or as hard, her loaves got to have less of the lightness and air pockets you describe and I can see in the breads.

As to the issue of trans fats, my mother was firmly of the belief that margerine was poison, and should be banned from stores, she lived to be vindicated and was firmly in the I told you so mode! She used bacon grease, which wasn't solid but wasn't liquid either, it sat out at room temp all the time, and wasn't "cleaned" or even strained. But was usually quite fresh.

csabri's picture

Hi Everyone,


My name is Sunny and this is my first post.  I tried before but could not get my pictures to post so I gave up.If someone can tell me I would appreciate it.  I can upload them but can't post them.

I have some information on cuban bread that might be helpful.  This information came from Raymond and Tony More at La Segunda Central Bakery in Ybor City, Tampa, FL. Land of my birth:} by way of The Columbia Restaurant Spanish Cookbook.

I'm sorry that I do not have the measurements as we are in the process of moving and I cannot find it.  Once we have moved and I find it (I hope) I will post it.  However the ingredients are as follows. Three types of flour, high gluten, spring wheat and hotel and restaurant flour. Shortening (half beef fat and half vegetable, Salt, Granulated sugar, yeast, water and yeast food (an additive that speeds up the process).  The flour varies depending on the weather.  When it's hot, less high-gluten flour is used; when it's cold more gluten is used.


How they do it at the bakery: They have a large vat mixer.  The ingredients are mixed for ten minutes keeping the mixture at 70 deg by adding ice as needed.  Then it is kneaded in a hopper for about 40 minutes.  The resultant mixture looks and feels like Silly Putty. 

Once it is kneaded they put it on a wooden table lubricated with veg. oil so it won't stick.  It is divided into portions (their batch makes 40- 19oz balls.) Each ball for them turns into a loaf 36" long.  They knead each ball with the heel of the hand to seal the bottom and then they put them in a proof box.  When they have risen, they are removed and the balls are flattened with the forearm.  They then fashion the loaves into long, tublar loaves.  The forearm is placed down the middle to get the air out of the loaf and to leave an indentation down the middle.

They then place 3 green palmetto leaves down the center of each loaf, one on top of the other, forming a single strand, which makes the spinelike crease on the top of the loaf.  (The leaves do not impart taste or odor, but indeed allow the loaves to split in the first minute in the oven, the leaf has no other function.)

Once this is done, the loaves are then placed back in the proof box to rise.  When the proofing is done, the racks of loaves are laid in front of huge fans, which serve to cool and dry the moisture from the loaves. (The reason the loaves are 36" long is so the Restauranteurs want to be able to make either 3 small cuban sandwiches or 1 large one with no wasted bread)

The loaves are then baked at 415 deg. for 35 minutes.  The bread must turn golden but can be light, bright or dark.  All are acceptable.

To keep it fresh once it is cooled, wrap well in plastic wrap and freeze.  It will stay fresh for years.  When defrosting let it defrost slowly and naturally. Do not use microwave or oven.  Otherwise it will just get hard as a rock.

This bakery has been trying since 1915 to decide why the bread they make in Tampa is not the same as it is in their other bakeries.  They think it is the water, the humidity or the palmetto leaves, but they are not sure.  They only know that they are not able to reproduce it in any of their other locations.


I hope that some of you mixologist will be able to figure out some formula using what you already know.

Hope this helps.


nobic0213's picture

The only GREAT cuban bread is from La Segunda, no other cuban bakery can duplicate it, let alone a miami bakery! Just like someone said, it may be the water in Tampa. I know the best Italian bread for Philadelpia Cheesesteaks comes from Conshohocken, just outside of Phili, and it has been said it is the best because the water comes from the Schuylkill River. You might come close but you can never duplicate it!!!! Close to it may be good enough for when you can't buy it, but nothing is like the real thing. I will try some of your recipes and see if the FL Keys water can come close. LOL!

cranbo's picture

Great thread, I'm interested in trying out some Cuban bread, thanks for sharing info, formulas and recipes. 

DaddyJax's picture

Being born and raised in Tampa I can say the Cuban bread here is unlike any others. I was unaware until I started traveling and would see a bakery selling cuban bread and getting nostalgic and trying it and thinking...this is wrong.

Well after reading this thread and all of the suggestions that it is the water I cringe at the thought. Our water is pretty bad. pretty heavy on the TDS(500+ppm) and chlorine. I used purified water for all of my baking and have yet to try tap but I am just a little hesitant. New Yorkers have been saying "it's the water" for years when it comes to their pizza dough so who knows?


RuthieG's picture

I was discussing this thread with my husband, who was born in Ybor City and grew up in Tampa and we were discussing the water and I mentioned to him that the water in Tampa really is horrible and that most drink bottled water.  He said that's true of today but back in the old days bottled water wasn't around ...He too believe it is the water.  I enjoyed this thread because everything said here about the pros and cons of Tampa vs Miami he has said to me and then we have a Daugter in Law who believes Miami cuban bread is better but was the original husband says Tampa cubans were around long before the miami cubans because of the Cigar factories in Tampa.  In our family we have agreeed to disagree and I use the pan cubano,  When we are in Tampa we go every morning to The Tropicana for cafe con leche and buttered/toasted cuban bread.  Many times we are back for lunch for sandwiches....


I bake cuban bread using the recipe from Taste of Cuba and it's good but just need to be in Tampa or somewhere close to really get the bread....Mine is a good substitute but not the real thing ......

2doughnuts's picture

We just took out 4 loaves of our Cuban Bread. The whole house smells yummy!! We've made this recipe before and it turns out beautifully. We've never had the Miami or Tampa Cuban bread so we can't tell you if it tastes like the original but I can tell you that the taste is fantastic. We do use lard - sorry but for the taste and texture we will sacrifice. I will even use butter and cream. The recipe we used was from the Taste of Cuba website. We put the wet string down the middle of the bread before baking and it turned out great. We always like to try new recipes so we may give some of the other Cuban recipes a try to compare with outs. Happy Baking.

stuntbaker's picture

I have a bakery in Key West where we make all our breads, croissants, danish from scratch. Our city water is piped down from the mainland and is unreasonably hard. We installed a high tech water filter recently that filters out everything in the water (I mean everything) and immediately all recipes and methods had to change. Huge difference in gluten development times, elasticity, hydration %'s everything! The yeast is happier, the breads are better and we are delighted but what a huge difference the water makes. It was like relearning all of my own formulas and methods!

Hector:"only a small portion of their dough is browned/touching the pan and on mine all of it is. So if nothing else their dough is standing up better."

Sounds like bottom heat on their bread (slate bottom or hearth oven with higher temp as opposed to home oven at lower temp?)

" mine is tending to lay flat like my dough is melting before it bakes (analogy). Theirs tends to be more like a rounded breadstick."

Our doughs that were usually stiff and springy made with city water were suddenly slack and droopy when made with the filtered (very soft) water . We even mix some filtered with some city water on a couple of doughs to get water that isn't too soft for those formulas.

We don't bake Cuban bread here or I'd feel more qualified to comment further on the discussion in this thread, I just thought I'd add to the comment about water quality and it's effect on bread dough. It's pretty inspiring though, I mean your persistence with the project.

mrbobkat's picture

I grew up in Tampa but never tried to bake my own bread until I moved to North Carolina.  When I visit Tampa, I load up...and when I get home, I put the loafs in the freezer.  I've looked through the comments and recipes...and one thing I that most of the bakeries use pork lard.

I will try the recipes submitted by rtoledo2002

DebKeyWest's picture

I have tried a few time to make the recipe in high altitude, from 7300 to 7800 elevation.  Anyone had any success with a recipe at this level and what did you change to make it work.  I know more liquid, higher temperature is usually called for when baking in this elevation.  I really want to get this to work, I miss my con leche and buttered cuban toast to dunk in my coffee!

oregoncrepe's picture

One of the food trucks we bake for wants a Cubano style bread, and after watching the move Chef we came to TFL to check out this bread.  This is a great thread.  Thanks to everyone.  Using the Kitchen Warfare recipe this was our first cut.   Cubano 1st attempt

birthrn2's picture

I know I'm a little late to this thread (I see the first post is from 2007). My grandfather had a very successful bakery in Ybor City (part of Tampa for those who may not know) in the 40's to early 60's. It wasn't a retail bakery. He baked for stores and restaurants. Anyway, I recently found his recipe for Cuban bread. He used a combination of hard flour and soft flour in equal proportions. His recipe does not call for any starter and has 2 rises. As for the shaping I only remember him making the long thinner loaves and his instructions say to use 14 oz of dough per loaf. My dad who often helped out in the bakery (but he is not a baker) said they would put a palmetto leaf on the loaves before baking to give it the slash in the crust. I read in one of the posts about using bakers twine which should give the same effect.

I think I have been able to cut the recipe down correctly for home use but I haven't tried it yet. I'll let you all know how it turns out. Happy baking!

cranbo's picture

birthrn2, thanks for sharing! always neat to find a little bit of this kind of family info. 

Feel free to post the original quantities/formula for the recipe, there are many here that can help scale it for you. 

birthrn2's picture

Ok. Before I post the recipe that my abuelo used in his bakery I'm going to give you a little more history. He was born in 1899 in Key West and moved to Tampa as a child. He opened his own bakery sometime in the 40's. It was called None Such Bakery (don't know the significance or meaning of the name if there was any). Like I said in my first post, he didn't bake and sell retail, although if someone came in and wanted to buy a loaf he would sell to them, but that wasn't what he did on a routine basis. He baked and sold to stores and restaurants (cuban bread, crackers and cookies called Torticas de Moron). Although my parents were both born and raised in Tampa and I was born in Key West, I didn't grow up there. My father was in the Navy and we were always stationed on the West Coast. I do remember visiting though and I would always get to go to the bakery and my abuelo would give me some dough to make my own little loaf. Anyway, my abuelo died at the age of 64. My abuela tried to keep the bakery going, but she just couldn't do it so she ended up closing it and before she died she sold the property that the bakery had been on.

More history. Most of my male ancestors were bakers (both sides of the family; they are all gone now). My abuelo was the only one who had a bakery for bread and I had one great uncle who had a doughnut shop/bakery (the most delicious things and I always got to go make my own doughnut too; I was a lucky girl). Anyway, my mother's father, who wasn't a very honest man, was jealous of my abuelo and tried to steal his recipes. He bribed one of the workers for it, but that man told my abuelo and he and my other grandfather had a falling out. I don't know how he eventually ended up with the recipes though since I got them from my maternal aunt. She only had the bread and cookie recipes, not the crackers.

Anyway, here is the recipe in the original quantities: (if anyone can help me break it down correctly that would be great. Just please repost it here. Thanks).

30 lbs 4 oz hard wheat flour

30 lbs 4 oz soft wheat flour

1 1/2 lbs shortening (I believe he used lard)

Mix the above for 5 min


1 lb salt

1 lb sugar

Dissolve in 2 gallons water then add to the flour mixture.


3/4 lb dry yeast dissolved in 2 gallons water. Add to the above mixture and mix for 25 min.

After 1/2 hour punch the dough good. After another 1/2 hour punch again and then make the loaves. 

Scale 14 oz for long loaf and 2 oz for rolls. 


This is exactly how it was written so I hope it is correct. 

If anyone knows anything about cutting down recipes for cookies let me know. The recipe for the Torticas de Moron is a little more complicated since I don't understand some of the measurements. I hope this bread recipe works for you all and me too!!

cranbo's picture

birthrn2, thanks again for sharing this family recipe. Reposting the conversion, my earlier one was wrong...

 Orig Weights/VolumesWeight (grams)Bakers %For 2 loaves or 14 rolls (grams)Ounces
Hard wheat flour30lb4oz1372150%2508.8
Soft wheat flour30lb4oz1372150%2508.8
TOTAL FLOURS60lb8oz27442100%50017.6
Water4 gal total (2g + 2g)1514255.2%276.09.7
Lard (or shortening)1.5lb6802.48%12.40.4
Dry yeast0.75lb3401.24%6.20.2
   Total Weight:811.128.6
14oz long loaf: 397g doughball   794g for 2 loaves28oz for 2 loaves
2oz roll: 57g doughball   798g for 14 rolls28oz for 14 rolls

Here's another way to visualize it:

Makes 2 long loaves or 14 2oz rolls: 

250g Hard wheat flour
250g Soft wheat flour
13g Lard (or shortening)
276g Water
8.3g Sugar
6.2g Dry yeast
8.3g Salt

  1. Mix flours and lard in mixer with paddle for on low speed for 5 min.
  2. Dissolve sugar and yeast in water, and add to flour mix.
  3. Add salt to flour mix and mix for 25min on low speed. 
  4. Wait 30 minutes, deflate dough by punching down thoroughly. 
  5. Wait 30 more minutes, punch down dough again. 
  6. Divide dough into pieces (in 1/2 for 2 loaves, or into 14 rolls)
  7. Shape and let rise (until doubled?) 
  8. Bake at ??? for ??? minutes
birthrn2's picture

Thank you so much. The recipe doesn't say shape and let rise or what temp and for how long to bake the bread. So those are things in question. I know with bread you do shape it and let it rise. Since I was only 5 years old the last time I remember being at my abuelo's bakery (he died the next year) I really don't remember. Thanks for the conversion. I can't wait to try it!

cranbo's picture

My pleasure. 

"After 1/2 hour punch again and make the loaves" in your original recipe implies: 

  1. Deflate dough
  2. Divide dough into pieces
  3. Shape pieces into loaves/rolls
  4. Let rise (proof) one last time
  5. Bake in preheated oven. 

Based on the amount of yeast in this recipe, the dough should rise quickly. I'd recommend using ice water in the recipe. 

As far as the final rise, my guess is that the final rise (proof) will be 30-60 minutes, maybe even less (depending on dough temperature). 

For baking temperature & time, around 400F should be right; time will vary depending on whether you're baking long loaves or rolls. 15-25 minutes for rolls should be enough, long loaves may take 30-40 minutes. For a relatively lean bread like this I'd recommend baking to an internal temp of no more than 200-205F. 

The dough is a pretty dry recipe; 55% hydration is not very wet. That said, as long as some low-protein, soft wheat flour is used, it should work out OK. I'd recommend a 50/50 mix of all-purpose flour and bread flour. You could also try cake flour & bread flour. Hard wheat flour has more protein, soft wheat flour has less.  If you use only all-purpose or bread flour, don't be surprised if you need to add 50-75g more water to the scaled recipe above to make a soft dough. 

cranbo's picture

I made birthrn2's cuban bread recipe last week, turned out well. 

Some notes from my bake:

I used King Arthur AP flour and some Argentinian 0000 flour that I had...the 0000 is super white and fine like baby powder, and I know it's very low protein. Also used shortening instead of lard (didn't have lard on hand). 

325g of water instead of 275g. 275g seemed too dry for the initial mix. I did use ice water, but in retrospect I'd reconsider, it was perhaps too cold. 

Step #3. Mix at KitchenAid speed #4 for 8min. 

Step #4. Rise for 50min, then punch down. During that time rose maybe 25%

Step #5. Rise for 45-60 minutes. At this point it finally doubled. 

Step #6. For my oven, I found it easier to shape into 4 12" rolls than the 14oz long loaf, which is tough to load into my home oven. 

Step #7. I let it rise on a linen couche for about 45min, not quite doubled. They dried and formed a skin, which made it easy to slash. I know some bakeries put the dough under fans to dry before baking. 

Step #8. Baked at 400F for about 20min. I misted the loaves with water, then baked them under a roasting pan cover.

Results: creamy white crumb, mild creamy flavor, fairly tight texture. Crust was slightly paler than desired on 3 of the 4 loaves, but had a nice dusty crispiness. Once grilled using butter for several medianoches I made, got beautifully brown with a nice crispy snap. 

For next time, I'd bake hotter, perhaps 450F. Also would knead longer (10min). 

Also did a nice 4lb roast pork shoulder, marinated overnight in lemon/lime/orange juices, garlic, oregano and cumin.  

Coppersgirl's picture

Can anyone help me? I have no access to a scale so have always had to measure my ingredients. Even " ballpark " measurements would give me a starting point! I have a starter in the fridge ready to go, a bucket of lard, and a ton of bread flour. Pleeeaaase help!

cranbo's picture

I recommend you buy a scale. You can get them anywhere (grocery stores, hardware stores and pharmacies sell them), and they are not expensive :) 

Here's some guidance:

1 cup of flour is 125-140g. 

1 cup of water is 236g.

Here's another list of conversions.

michaeltop's picture

I am happy to report that Cuba is allowing small business to eke out a living. Years ago the national food of Cuba was what ever you could find. From my tour of a small bakery I can confirm that a overnight preferment is used  and lard. You really don't want to be a pig in Cuba,  it's on the menu in many forms. They do not have access to exotic flours so real Cuban bread is made from Spanish imported flour or from South America, most likely a soft wheat. So to make it real don't complicate the recipe. I also noted they use a piece of soaked butcher twine on top. Sorry I don't have a picture of that.


MichaelHavana bakeryProof timeoven a cool photo in Havana

breadncrumbs's picture

I am trying to make Cuban bread according to the recipe posted by Hector in this thread. However, the recipe doesn't say whether fresh yeast or dry yeast should be used. 1 oz sounds sort of much if dry yeast was used... on the other hand, the directions make it sound like dry yeast instead of fresh yeast is being used.

Could anyone please clarify the type of yeast to be used in Hector's recipe? Thank you!