Pan Cubano, or Cuban Bread, is one of the first breads I made from scratch. It is easy to make and uses ingredients I typically have at home. This recipe makes two loaves, which is a definite plus for me. We typically eat one with dinner and I freeze or give away the second. If you are scared of making bread and using yeast - TRY THIS RECIPE. You cannot mess it up, I promise. This recipe comes from the late James Beard, and was featured in Memories of a Cuban Kitchen. Travis took some pictures of Ethan and me making this bread, so get out your apron and follow along. Let's make some bread!
Pan Cubano, Cuban Bread
1 package of yeast (instant or active dry)
2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/4 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
6-7 cups sifted all purpose flour
Make sure your water is warm - you don't have to use a thermometer but if you do, the temperature should be between 105 and 110 degrees. Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add salt & sugar, mixing it in with a wooden spoon.
Sift your flour in a separate bowl. If you don't have a sifter you can use a fine mesh strainer instead. Add the sifted flour, about one cup at a time, to the water, yeast, salt and sugar mixture. You can do this with a wooden spoon and some arm power, or use a stand mixer with the dough hook on a low speed. Add enough flour to make a fairly stiff dough.My little baker thinks bread dough tastes great. He's weird, but look at that cute face!
Once the dough is thoroughly mixed, shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl (I use non-stick baking spray). Grease top and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let stand in warm place until double in bulk.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Prepare a baking sheet by sprinkling it with cornmeal. Put a tea kettle full of water on to boil (or a pan of water). You will need a large pan (I use my 9 by 13 pan) full of boiling water for the bottom rack of your oven. The bread will cook on the top rack with the steam from the boiling water helping to create the most perfect crust on your bread. Shape the dough into two long loaves. Arrange on a baking sheet. Allow to rise 5 minutes. Slash the tops in 2-3 places. Brush with water and place in cold oven. Set oven to 400 degrees and place a pan of boiling water in bottom of oven. Bake 40-45 minutes until crusty. If the top of your loaves start to look brown, you can tent a piece of aluminum foil over them to prevent over browning. You will know your bread is done when the top crust is hard and the bread sounds hollow when you "knock" on it.
Let the bread cool before cutting. It will be hard to wait because the smell is amazing.
Okay, now you can cut into it.
This is a perfect bread to accompany ANY dinner. I love to have it with soup, though. It's a good "dunkin" type of bread and holds up well.
If you want to have a special snack, serve this bread with honey butter. Mix a stick of softened butter with about 3 Tablespoons of honey. Yum.
Slather that honey butter over your Pan Cubano and bite into it. Close your eyes and savor it. This bread is so easy to make. Even if you have never baked before, you can make this bread. Do it. Today. Well, it's a little late. Do it. Tomorrow. You will be so glad you did.