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.

Recipe Summary

prep:
25 mins
cook:
20 mins
additional:
11 hrs 30 mins
total:
12 hrs 15 mins
Servings:
12
Yield:
2 loaves
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Ingredients

12
Original recipe yields 12 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Starter:
Dough:

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • 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.

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle with a little cornmeal.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

169 calories; protein 4.1g; carbohydrates 29.4g; fat 3.6g; cholesterol 3mg; sodium 389.5mg. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (50)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
04/07/2017
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, moist, beautiful crust and tasty. Perfect for sandwiches even if they are not Cuban. Using lard and using no mechanical devices except a stove takes you back, especially if your my age. I have some rising as we speak. Thank you for this wonderful recipe. Read More
(15)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
04/22/2019
sorry Chef John, First time ever I failed your recipe with this. Some other person also said about after baking bread so dense , here same as me my this recipe bread was totally flat ! I never making this anymore. Read More
(2)
59 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 43
  • 4 star values: 8
  • 3 star values: 4
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 4
Rating: 5 stars
04/07/2017
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, moist, beautiful crust and tasty. Perfect for sandwiches even if they are not Cuban. Using lard and using no mechanical devices except a stove takes you back, especially if your my age. I have some rising as we speak. Thank you for this wonderful recipe. Read More
(15)
Rating: 5 stars
02/04/2019
This is pretty darn close to the bread from a Tampa Cuban bakery I used to frequent, just a few feet shorter and minus the palm leaf down the middle. Your home oven will not be wide enough for the typical 3.5-4 foot long loaves from the bakery. Not a bad thing you don’t have to fish leaf pieces out of your bread. The lard is a MUST. Made it with butter and it’s just not the same. My starter has been going for over 6 months now. Just feed it with equal portions flour and water after each use. Read More
(5)
Rating: 3 stars
04/03/2018
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 a sourdough bread. Too dense, compared to Cuban bread. Although I was disappointed, the bread itself was still really good. Nice, crisp outside. Maybe next time I will try heating the baking sheets with the oven...hhhmmm. Read More
(5)
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Rating: 5 stars
10/23/2018
I don't know how "authentically" Cuban it is because I have nothing to compare it to. Chef John said himself in the video that it would be as close as we could get to it. I DO know I love this recipe & will keep it in my computer of favorite bread recipes. I used the same big crock my grandma made bread in. It was like having her there in the kitchen with me. Thank you Chef John you're the best. I love your nonchalant presentations. Don't ever leave us. Read More
(2)
Rating: 1 stars
12/27/2018
I’ve tried this recipe FOUR times. Followed the instructions to the letter then tried to vary how long the dough proofs but each and every time the dough collapsed when I went to the baking step. If I could give this recipe -1000 stars I would. I’ve made bread for years and never had this much trouble and waste of time. NEVER AGAIN Read More
(2)
Rating: 5 stars
09/02/2018
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. Read More
(2)
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Rating: 3 stars
04/22/2019
sorry Chef John, First time ever I failed your recipe with this. Some other person also said about after baking bread so dense , here same as me my this recipe bread was totally flat ! I never making this anymore. Read More
(2)
Rating: 1 stars
07/14/2017
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 yeast and more rising time and nada. Unfortunately, the only other reviewers haven't apparently had Cuban bread before, so I'm not sure how they are rating this. Can I put butter on it? Sure. Is it Cuban? Nope. Will I stick it in my Cafe con Leche? Nope. If you think it sounds like mine didn't turn out as intended, please advise. I'm simply making the rounds through recipes, which I follow exactly, attempting to get a taste of home. Read More
(2)
Rating: 5 stars
09/25/2017
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 gather the texture the super thin and flakey crust were there and the taste was amazing. Read More
(2)
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