Homemade Cuban bread, or pan Cubano, is perfect for Cuban sandwiches or just eating plain with butter. This recipe shows you how to make one loaf of soft white bread, so you don’t have to move to Miami or Cuba!
- 4 cups bread flour, sifted (470g)
- 1/4 cup lard, melted (55g)
- 1 1/4 cups room-temperature water (295 ml)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons fast-action yeast (7g)
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar (8g)
- 2 teaspoons fine salt (10g)
- Cornmeal or semolina, for dusting
Making the Dough (25 minutes + 1 hour proving)
- Sift the bread flour into a bowl and set aside. Melt the lard in the microwave or in a small saucepan, being careful not to let it get over 115 F.
- Stir together the water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl with your hand until blended.
- Add the melted lard and half of the flour to the mixture. Mix until a wet paste has formed, then add in the salt and enough flour to make a somewhat sticky dough.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10-15 minutes until the dough is smooth, no longer sticky, and passes the windowpane test. Test the dough by breaking off a lump of dough and stretching it between the thumb and forefinger of each hand to create a windowpane. The dough should stretch until it’s translucent in places without breaking. If it does, this means the dough has been sufficiently kneaded. If not, continue kneading for a minute longer and test again.
- Shape the dough into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough prove until at least doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Shaping the Loaf (10 minutes + 45 minutes proving)
- Lightly dust a 11×17 inch rimmed cookie sheet with semolina or cornmeal.
- Dump the dough onto a floured surface and punch it down all over to knock out air pockets.
- Shape it into a rectangle and roll it up tightly from one of the long sides.
- Pinch the seam and ends to seal, then roll it gently with the palms of your hands to extend its length to about 20 inches. Place it diagonally along the prepared tray.
- Place the tray inside of a clean, large garbage bag. Inflate the bag and tuck the ends under the tray to seal. Let the dough prove for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the loaf has doubled in size and the dough springs back quickly when lightly prodded with a fingertip.
- While the dough is proving, prepare your scoring device. Place a strip of palmetto frond or a long stem from the palmetto plant in a shallow dish. Pour some boiling water over top and let it sit in the water for about 5 minutes to clean them. Rinse and dry the frond strips or stem and set aside.
- About 10 minutes before the dough is finished proving, preheat the oven to 400 F. Put an old metal casserole dish on the lowest shelf of the oven to preheat.
Baking the Loaf (20 minutes + 15 minutes cooling)
- Once the loaf is fully proved, push the palmetto strips or stem along the top of the loaf. Put the leaves or stem in on an angle to create a better score as the loaf bakes.
- Slide the tray into the oven, pour a cup or two of water into the hot metal dish, and quickly shut the oven door.
- Bake the loaf for about 20-25 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and has an internal temperature of at least 190 F.
- Let the loaf cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack before slicing and serving.
- Weigh the ingredients when baking for much more accurate measurements.
- Make sure the dough passes the windowpane test when you’re kneading.
- Bake with a pan of water in the oven to create steam, encouraging a nice crust and higher rise.
- Use a pesticide-free palmetto leaf.
- Let it cool completely before serving to allow it to finish cooking through in the middle.
- Category: Bread
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Cuban
Keywords: Cuban bread, Cuban bread recipe