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Pan Cubano (Authentic Cuban bread recipe)

Pan Cubano (Authentic Cuban bread recipe)

Ingredients

STARTER
¾ tsp active dry yeast(⅓ envelope)
cup warm water
cup bread or all-purpose flour
DOUGH
4-½ tsp active dry yeast -(2 envelopes or 2 cakes of compressed yeast)
1 Tbs sugar
1-½ cups warm water
3 to 4 Tbs lard or solid vegetable shortening, at room temperature
½ batch starter (see above recipe)
1 Tbs salt
4 to 5 cups bread or all-purpose flour

Directions

To Prepare Starter: 1. The day before baking; mix the starter ingredients, dissolving the yeast in the water first. You want a thick paste when you add the flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let "ripen" in refrigerator for 24 hours. Leftover starter will keep for several days in the refrigerator and can be frozen. To Prepare Dough: 1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in 3 tablespoons of water in a large mixing bowl. When the mixture is foamy (5 to 10 minutes), stir in the lard, the remaining water, and the 1/2 batch of starter. 2. Mix well with your fingers or a wooden spoon. Stir in salt and flour, 1 cup at a time. You want to get a dough that is stiff enough to knead. You can also mix and knead in a mixer fitted with the dough hook or in a food processor fitted with the double blade, as the processor dough hook will not handle this job easily. 3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes, adding flour as necessary. The dough should be pliable and not sticky. 4. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles its' bulk, about 45 minutes. Punch down. 5. To form the loaves, divide the dough in 4 pieces. Roll out each to form a 14-inch long tube, with rounded ends (sort of like a long meat loaf) Put 2 of the loaves on a baking sheet, about 6 inches apart. Cover with dampened cotton dish towels and let rise in warm, draft-free spot until double their bulk, about 1 hour. If you want to let it rise at a slower pace, you can do it in a cooler spot and even in the refrigerator, but give it 3 to 4 hours instead. 6. Preheat oven to 350 F 7. Lay a dampened piece of thick kitchen string or twine (about 1/8 " thick) all along the top length of the loaf. Bake until the breads are lightly browned on top and sound hollow when lightly tapped, about 30 minutes. 8. Let them cool slightly and remove the strings. They will leave a distinct little ridge on top. Transfer loaves onto a wire rack for cooling.

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