Anyway, I'm *not* Cuban, but I'm trying to learn how to cook various Cuban dishes for hubby. It's not exactly the most easy thing, here in rural Kansas, to find fresh tropical fruits and such that aren't already rotten from the trip up from the Latin American countries. And where exactly do you find a whole suckling pig to put in the pit (and the money to buy it)?
So, I try to make smaller things, a side dish here, a sweet treat there, a loaf of bread in between.
I learned of Pan Cubano recipes from Three Guys from Miami.
With hubby drooling over the idea of light and fluffy Cuban bread, (pan Cubano is a literal translation--bread Cuban) I tried out what looked like a decent recipe.
Take 1 tablespoon active dry yeast (I buy this in pound containers, so if you are using the little packets, guesstimate), mix it with 2 teaspoons sugar and 1 1/4 cups warm water to proof. Put this in your mixing bowl. Mix in 4 cups of flour (I used all purpose), in 2 cup intervals. Add in 2 teaspoons salt (I omitted this, I just don't use much salt in baking) and 1/4 cup lard (melted).
Lard??!!?? Yep, lard. It's *real* fat, and it makes the bread lighter. I used olive oil in mine--1/4 cup olive oil works well, doesn't taste quite the same, but makes a light loaf. Lard is more prominently available in Cuba, as it is rendered off the pig (also common in Cuba) and already there to use.
I used my dough hooks on my little Sunbeam Mix Master. It's not fancy, but it sure helps the shoulders and hands!! And it makes a nice well kneaded loaf...no complaints here!!
As with any other yeast bread, do your 2 rises, one in a bowl, one in the loaf pan.
Hubby purchased a long loaf French bread pan for me on Amazon, and it just arrived the day before I baked, so it was time to test it out. It is light weight, aluminum, and works nicely.
Make sure your oven is preheated to 350. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water over your risen loaf, and pop that puppy in the ready oven. Wait about 18-20 minutes, and you should have a nice, hot, crispy crust loaf of Cuban bread!
There you go--easy to make Pan Cubano! Call it whatever you want, it is yummy, light, and can make a good sandwich. We eat it sliced thick with butter and garlic, or toasted with cheese and light meats.
Tip--don't pop it out of the pan immediately after taking it out of the oven. The crust has steam right under it and it will make the loaf deflate just a little--look at the back end of that loaf, and you'll see the difference--I messed with it all excitedly and let out some of the steam before the loaf cooled. Never mind that I was ready to dive into it, nor that hubby was over my shoulder salivating with a fork and knife in hand.... Wait a few minutes then pop it out onto whatever you have to hold it. I used my broiler pan. It worked.
If you don't have long loaf pans, it will make 2 regular sized loaves easily. Still yummy goodness from the island of Cuba!
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