Pan Cubano

Recipe by LaJuneBug
READY IN: 3hrs
YIELD: 4 loaves




  • STARTER: The day before baking, dissolve the yeast in warm water in a nonreactive bowl. Add flour. You want a thick paste when you add the flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap (punch a couple air holes) and place in refrigerator for 24 hours.
  • Leftover starter can be left in the refrigerator or frozen. (You will need to maintain starter if you are going to keep it; there are several zaar recipies that describe sourdough starter care.).
  • DOUGH: Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water in a large mixing bowl. When the mixture is foamy (5 to 10 minutes), mix in the lard/ shortening, remaining water and starter (remember, it's 1/2 cup of starter and not the entire volume that you made the day before).
  • 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 a dough hook or in a food processor fitted with the double blade (the processor hook will not handle this job easily).
  • 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.
  • Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let warm, draft-free spot until it doubles its bulk, about 45 minutes. Punch down.
  • To form the loaves, divide the dough in 4 pieces. Roll out each piece to form a 14-inch long tube, with rounded ends (sort of like a long meat loaf).
  • Put 2 of the loaves per baking sheet, each loaf about 6 inches apart on the sheet. Cover with dampened cotton dish towel and let rise in warm, draft-free spot until double their bulk, about 1 hour. If you want it to rise at a slower pace, you can put it in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Lay a piece of dampened thick string or twine (about 1/8" thick) all along the top of the loaf. Bake until the loaves are lightly browned on the top and sound hollow when lightly tapped, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove loaves from oven and let cool slightly. Remove the strings. They will leave a distinct little ridge on top. Transfer loaves to a wire rack for cooling.