The time has come for another Ethnic Potluck with the Ayden Kitchen & Bar crew, and this time I drew Cuba! What dish would I cook? Well, with my reputation for delicious sandwiches, and my last Ethnic Potluck contribution being a Banh Mi, it made perfect sense that I tackle the famous Cubano! Now, when serving Cuban Sandwiches to a room full of chefs, you can’t go about it half-assed! Although I have never been to Cuba, or had an authentic Cuban Sandwich, from my research, I knew the bread was a very important part. It’s a sandwich, so of course the bread is important. It’s half the damn thing!
With that in mind, if I was going to do Cuba justice, I had to make fresh Pan Cubano! (I said that last part with an accent). The bread isn’t too complicated, much like the sandwich, it’s all about simple things done well! Serving these sandwiches on freshly baked bread was a sure-fire way to please the crowd!
Cuban Bread (Pan Cubano)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 4 tbsp butter or 3 tbsp fresh lard cut into small pieces
- 1 1/4 cup water
- Start by adding a tablespoon of warm water to your yeast, stirring it, and allowing it to activate until it begins to get foamy on top of the water.
- Once activated, mix all your ingredients in a large bowl, combining until a loose dough begins to form.
- Transfer dough to a lightly oiled surface, oil your hands, and knead the dough for about 8 minutes until it becomes smooth. If you find your dough isn't becoming smooth, wet your hands as you knead the dough, repeating until the dough becomes a smooth ball.
- Once kneading is complete, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and allow the dough to rise for about an hour until the dough becomes puffy.
- Gently fold the dough in upon itself, and turn it upside-down after 30 minutes.
- Once dough has risen, divide into six even pieces, and shape into a rough log, covering, and allowing to rest for 15 minutes.
- To form the log (which will end up being about 8 inches long), flatten the dough into a rectangular, oval-like shape, starting to roll from one end, lightly stretching the dough as you roll, tucking it in at the bottom of the roll, where the roll meets the rest of the dough.
- As you are rolling the dough, you want the flat section of the dough to be wider than the section you are rolling, so as you roll, using your thumbs, tuck the left and right edges of the dough into the roll, and continue stretching, and rolling forward. Once rolled, pinch each together, and place on counter, seam-side down, covering with a towel, and allow to rest for about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Once oven is preheated, and the dough has rest, place dough onto a baking sheet, brush or spray the tops with water, then bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.
- Once baked, removed to cooling rack.
Recipe adapted from Food.com
I was really happy with how these turned out, especially being that it was my first time making this style of bread! Fortunately, Celeste, my pastry-chef room-mate, showed me how to properly roll the buns, and with her help, I had some gorgeous buns! Yes, I have gorgeous buns.
Now go make Cuban Sandwiches.