Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cuban Bread

I love this stuff.  Can't get enough of it :)  It is quickly becoming my go-to bread dough for making hoagie rolls, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, everything under the sun.  It's really versatile, so soft and fluffy but still sturdy enough for angus hot dogs... And it has tremendous keeping power due to the addition of starter discard.  I keep starter discard in a container in the fridge, since I can't bear to throw away good KAF and beasties!  The trick is to not overbake these guys, since they'll dry out a lot faster than you think they will.

Good cuban bread uses lard, which I bought recently for making tortillas.  Then, I experimented with half lard half butter for those tortillas, and found that DF and I really loved them, so I thought I'd do the same thing here.  Success!  While it may not be "traditional" to use butter (you could certainly leave it out and use all lard), I really liked the hint of butter flavour it added.

Cuban Bread

21oz all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c warm water
4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1TB sugar
5/8oz kosher salt (about 1TB)
3 oz sourdough starter (about 1/4 c), 100%H
1 oz lard (about 2 TB)
1 oz butter (2 TB)
milk, for brushing after the bake

Oven - 350F, 15 hamburger buns, about 6 large hoagie rolls

In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the water with the sugar.  Let sit for about 10mins until foamy.  Dissolve the starter in the water, and then add the flour and salt.  Mix with a spatula until everything is well hydrated, and then insert the dough hook and begin mixing on low speed.  Once everything seems to be coming together into a cohesive dough, about 1-2 minutes, begin adding the butter and lard slowly, incorporating each addition completely before adding the next.  When all the fat is mixed in, turn the speed up to medium for about 4-6 minutes, kneading until the dough is smooth.  You may add a little extra flour if the dough is not cleaning the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1-1 1/2 hrs.  Divide into 6-8 pieces for hoagies, and about 15 pieces for burger buns (about 2.5-3oz each).  Shape into batards or rolls and place on parchment lined baking sheets.  If making burger buns, flatten each ball into a flat disc about the diameter of the desired bun.  Lightly mist with oil, then cover with plastic wrap and proof another 20-30 minutes, or until almost doubled.

Bake in preheated 350F oven for about 25 mins, rotating halfway through, until the middle of the breads reaches 200F.  Immediately brush with milk to soften the crust, then cool completely before eating.

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