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Chef John's Cuban Bread

Rated as 4.3 out of 5 Stars
57k

"I didn't think I liked Cuban sandwiches until I had one on real Cuban bread--what a difference! This bread uses lard and a double-hit of yeast plus a fermented starter. All this adds extra flavor and lift."
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Ingredients

12 h 15 m servings 169
Original recipe yields 12 servings (2 loaves)

Directions

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  1. Combine 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 teaspoon yeast, and 1/2 cup flour in a bowl or measuring cup. Whisk the starter until well blended. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Place 1 package active dry yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar in a mixing bowl. Pour in 3/4 cup warm water. Let rest 15 minutes to ensure yeast is alive (bubbles will form on surface). Add lard and salt to bowl; add 1 cup of the flour. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated and dough forms a sticky ball. Add the starter (reserving 1/4 cup if you want to keep the starter going, if desired. Otherwise add it all.). Sprinkle most of the rest of the flour on the dough, reserving 1/2 cup to be used if needed when kneading.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until dough comes together in a firm ball, adding additional flour only as needed. Dough should be soft and supple with just a bit of tackiness on the surface.
  4. Place dough in a bowl and coat surface with a little vegetable oil. Cover bowl with a damp kitchen towel and place in a warm spot to rise. Let rise until at least doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  5. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle with a little cornmeal.
  6. Transfer dough onto lightly floured surface. Lightly press the dough into a rectangle with your lightly floured hands. Divide dough in half and press and shape each half into a long 1/2-inch thick rectangle about 12 inches long. Roll up tightly starting at the long end to form a skinny loaf. Flatten a bit. Transfer each loaf to a prepared baking sheet and dust with a bit of flour. Cover with a light, dry towel and let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Cut a 1/4-inch deep slit down the top of the loaves with a sharp knife or razor. Mist loaves lightly with water.
  8. Place pans in pre-heated oven, one pan on lower rack, one on higher rack. After 10 minutes, switch pan positions. Continue to bake until loaves are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Transfer loaves to cooling rack and let cool to room temperature before slicing.

Footnotes

  • Chef's Note:
  • I used 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 1/2 cups bread flour.
  • Each loaf yields about 10 slices bread, or 2 Cuban sandwiches. Check out Chef John's Cuban Sandwich recipe.

Nutrition Facts


Per Serving: 169 calories; 3.6 29.4 4.1 3 389 Full nutrition

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Reviews

Read all reviews 8
  1. 10 Ratings

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    Rated as 5 out of 5 Stars
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    Rated as 4 out of 5 Stars
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    Rated as 3 out of 5 Stars
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    Rated as 2 out of 5 Stars
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    Rated as 1 out of 5 Stars
Most helpful positive review

I have made this bread 3 times this week. the first time was a disaster - probably due to my ineptitude - but the second time was perfect. Absolutely the best bread I have ever made. Soft, m...

Most helpful critical review

Followed the recipe with the note about using half regular flour, half bread flour. I really hoped this would be the one that would yield an authentic Cuban bread. Instead it came out more like ...

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I have made this bread 3 times this week. the first time was a disaster - probably due to my ineptitude - but the second time was perfect. Absolutely the best bread I have ever made. Soft, m...

Followed the recipe with the note about using half regular flour, half bread flour. I really hoped this would be the one that would yield an authentic Cuban bread. Instead it came out more like ...

I’m new to bread making. This bread was easy for me to make. It came out great. I made Cuban sandwiches with it. I made it again today. I think I like it better than the white bread I make.

Great for making Cuban sandwiches

Followed instructions step by step except I substituted butter for lard. Use half bread flour as suggested. On par with Cuban bakery I frequented while living in Florida. Second time I made it I...

This was my first attempt at making any type of bread, and it turned out great. I didn't flatten mine quite enough or pinch the seams closed so they weren't quite a pretty but from what I can ga...

I followed this recipe exactly and ended up with bread that was far too dense to be considered Cuban bread, which is supposed to be almost comically airy. I made it an additional time with more...

I was nervous, but it turned out so good and it was easy! The inside is soft and stayed that way after it cooled! Can't wait to use for sandwiches.