Cuban Bread

Cuban Bread

1 scant T. or 1 (1/2 oz.) package active dry yeast

 2 C. warm water (105 – 115°F.)

 1 t. salt

 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 C. unbleached all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, soften the yeast in the water.

Add the salt and 3 cups of the flour. Beat vigorously with a dough whisk or a heavy-handled spoon for 2 minutes.

Gradually add more of the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough forms a mass and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.

Knead, adding more flour, a little at a time as necessary, about 8 to 10 minutes, or until you have a smooth, elastic dough and blisters begin to develop on the surface.

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Turn to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a tightly woven kitchen towel and let rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and knead it into a ball. Put the dough on a well-greased baking sheet and flatten it slightly so that is about 3 inches high. Make 3 slits in the top of the loaf, about 1/4 inch deep and 2 inches apart.

Pour 1 cup of boiling water into a shallow pan and put the pan on the lower shelf of an unheated oven. put the dough on the shelf above, wait 10 minutes, turn the oven to 400°F. Bake the bead for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 200°F.

Immediately remove from the baking sheet and cool on a rack.

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