Sunday, December 14, 2008

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Just My Imagination

One of the things I miss from Miami is the Cuban food. I don't even know if I can fully explain the extent of my love for Cuban food. I am not Cuban, but it's hard not to be influenced by Cuban culture when you were raised in Miami and are married to a Cuban. I ate Cuban food growing up but it wasn't until I started dating Alex that I was really introduced to Cuban eating. We would have dinner every night with his family and Abuela would prepare a huge spread of food. There would be rice, beans, some kind of meat, tostones or maduros, salad, and, of course, Cuban bread. Cuban bread is one of the best breads on the planet because of how soft and light it is. You could very easily eat a whole loaf, which is usually close to 2 ft long, in one sitting because of its lightness.

In my ignorance, I thought you could get Cuban bread everywhere. Living in Miami really does shelter you from what and how the rest of America is. So you can only imagine my surprise when I came to Boston, went to the store, and discovered there was no Cuban bread. That was definitely one of those life defining foodie moments. It never occurred to make Cuban bread because I simply put it in the group of foods that I could only eat and get in Miami. But as soon as I saw Baking Bites' recipe for Cuban bread I decided to give it a try. The recipe seemed easy enough and I had high hopes of experiencing a little bit of home in Boston. As soon as I took the bread out of the oven I knew something was wrong. It didn't look like Cuban bread. The crust was too hard. Cuban bread has an incredibly soft crust that makes it easy to cut the bread without the use of a knife. Then, I cut the bread open and, again, it was wrong. This bread was very dense; Cuban bread is very light and airy. Then, I tasted the bread. Again, it was wrong. This bread was more along the lines of French bread. It was a great tasting bread but not what I expected. I felt defeated and like I usually do when I feel defeat, I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The next time I'm in Miami I will take pictures of the fabulousness of Cuban bread so that the blogging world can be exposed to its delicious greatness :)

"Cuban" Bread
Source: Baking Bites (here)
Makes 4 sandwich-sized baguettes.

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (1/4-oz)

1 tbsp sugar

2 cups warm water

4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for kneading

1 tbsp salt

In a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar and warm water. Let stand for 10 minutes, until yeast is foamy. Stir in 4 cups of all purpose flour and the salt and mix well, until dough is smooth and elastic. It will be sticky, but the dough will still pull towards the spoon (or dough hook, if using an electric mixer) as you stir.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise for 2 - 2 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.

Generously flour a flat work surface. Scrape dough out onto the board and gently knead in additional flour until dough is no longer sticky and forms a smooth ball. You may knead in anywhere from 1/2 cup to 1 cup of flour. Let dough rest for 15 minutes.

Divide the dough ball into 4 pieces and shape each into a baguette about 1 1/2-inches thick. Place all baguettes onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with a clean dish towel. Let shaped dough rise for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F. Bake baguettes for 30-35 minutes, until an instant read thermometer inserted into the bottom of one of the loaves reads 200-210F.

Cool loaves completely on a wire rack before slicing.


One of the loaves

Too dense.

My consolation


Jen said...

you need to use lard!!!! that's the trick! try this recipe, but make sure you use the lard and not the butter: if that doesn't work, i have a really good recipe at my mom's house that i will get for you :)

SpinachNPeace said...

if you get this right you HAVE to share the recipe with me. there is no such thing as cuban bread in nyc.