Monday, July 2, 2012

Artisan and Sandwich - Cuban Bread

I have been driving my daughter nuts for a few days threatening to make what I call Cuban bread. How it got this name I have no idea, however. This is a combination bread with a crunchy, chewy crust, like an artisan bread, along with a soft, white crumb like a sandwich bread. I needed a serious bread knife to slice it, but once I did, it made an incredible base for all things slightly wet (like roast beef with some gravy!!). This bread is a little unusual in that it uses very hot water (around 120 F 60C) and not the usual 100 F (around 40C). It makes a warm dough that rises quickly. In fact that's not all. After only 15 minutes of rising, I placed it in the cold oven, and let it rise while the oven heated!. Definitely a keeper! It's not too complicated, and you'll love the flavor and texture. Cuban bread... where it got it's name, I don't know, and actually don't care. It's just really good bread, and easy to make. This bread is a variant on a recipe from Bernard Clayton's wonderful book The New Complete Book of Breads. For anyone serious about bread baking, it's a must.

Here's What You'll Need:

about 3 cups bread flour or AP flour
2 1/2 tsp. dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs. sugar
1 cup hot water (about 120 130 F or 60-70 C)
sesame seeds for decoration

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1. Place all the dry ingredients (but only 2 cups of the flour)  in a mixer bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the hot water and begin mixing immediately, beating vigorously. If using a mixer, beat the dough for about 3 minutes. Add the rest of the flour gradually while mixing, to make a smooth, and slightly shiny dough which is quite warm to the touch. Continue kneading this dough for another 8 minutes or so. The dough will be very smooth and elastic.

2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, covered, to rise until doubled, about 15 minutes!

3. Punch down the dough on a work surface then form into a ball. Slash the dough with 2 or 3 quick strokes about 1/2 inch (3 mm) deep. Then , place the dough on a parchment paper lined baking tray and brush with water, and if you like, sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds.

4. Place your baking sheet into a cold oven and heat it to about 400 F (200 C)! The bread will continue to rise in the heating oven, the slashes will 'bloom' and it will reach full size in about 10 minutes. Place a pan of boiling water under the baking tray to fill the oven with steam. This helps give the bread a crisp, crunchy crust.

5. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a deep, dark brown color then cool completely on a rack. If you are using a convection oven, you should reduce the temperature to 350 F (180 C).

6. This bread should cool completely before slicing, and be stored in paper, not plastic to maintain the crust. Because there are no eggs, dairy or oil, it will tend to dry fairly quickly, but don't worry about it keeping fresh for 3 days! It will be gone after one! It makes a great sandwich bread that is easy to make and wonderful to eat. About 2 hours from start to finish. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool.
This recipe has been submitted to Yeastspotting!