Pan Cubano (Cuban-Style Bread)
- 1/4 Ounce yeast
- 2 Cups lukewarm water
- 1 Teaspoon iodized salt
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 2 1/4 Cups all-purpose wheat flour, sifted
- 2 1/4 Cups bread flour, sifted
- 1/4 Cup lard, plus more for greasing the bowl
- All-purpose flour, for rolling the dough
- 2 Ounces cornmeal, for dusting the loaves
Serve this delicious Pan Cubano with my Herb-Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Avocado Chimichurri; it's perfect for sopping up any leftover sauce.
In a bowl, place the yeast in the water and stir until dissolved. Let sit until bubbles form, about 5-10 minutes. Add the salt and sugar and stir until dissolved. In a bowl, mix together the wheat flour and bread flour and reserve ½ cup of the flour mixture.
Pour 1 cup of the liquid into the bowl of a food processor, half of the lard, and 2 cups of the sifted flour.
Pulse the mixture 8 times and scrape the sides of the walls. Turn it to full power until a dough ball forms, about 30 seconds. If sticky, add ¼ cup of the reserved flour and pulsate a few times until the dough comes together again.
Remove the dough from the food processor and shape into a ball. Grease a large bowl and place the dough there. Turn it a few times so it gets covered with the grease, cover with a dry clean towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size.* Repeat with the rest of the flour, lard, and water mixture.
Once doubled in size, punch down the dough to remove excess air. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto the work surface. Shape into 2 long French-style loaves.
Grease a baking sheet and arrange the loaves on the baking sheet. Insert the tip of a paring knife at one end and run down to the other, creating a long slit, leaving about 1 inch of untouched bread at each end. Heavily dust with cornmeal and let rise again until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Brush the loaves with water before placing in the oven. Place a shallow pan with water at the bottom of the oven so the bread cooks at an even pace. (The steam will help the bread bake slower, which results in bread that is more moist.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake until lightly browned and crispy, about 25 minutes; halfway through the cooking process brush with water once more.
*Note: Preheat the oven to the lowest setting and then turn it off; this will be a perfect environment for the dough to rise, about 45-60 minutes.