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Cuban Bread (aka...quickest yeast bread EVER)

Not only is it quick- it's REALLY GOOD!  It has this beautifully thick and chewy crust with a spongy interior.  I may just have to make it daily.  Or at least every other day.  It's just that simple and that delicious.  I want to make it my everyday, go-to white bread.  I was amazed that the flavors could develop like they did in such a short period of time...I think the poppy seeds added a lot to the top, but I will try using sesame seeds on a loaf next go-round to see if I can taste the difference.

Hubs and I polished off the last of the loaf for lunch yesterday by simply cutting thick slices and slathering them with frijoles con chorizo and washing it all down with a cold glass of milk.  I think it's worth mentioning that as soon as I finish typing this, I'm mixing up another batch so that we have a couple more loaves to carry us through lunch today and breakfast tomorrow.  I feel an obsession coming on.  Thanks so much to Ilva, this month's Bread Baking Babes hostess for choosing this recipe and bringing this bread into my life.
Cuban Bread

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Keywords: bake bread vegan flour Cuban

Ingredients (2 small loaves)
  • 5-6 c. bread flour
  • 2 pkgs. dry yeast (~2¼ tsp. each)
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 c. (500 ml) hot water
  • sesame or poppy seeds, optional
  • cornmeal, for baking sheet
Place 4 cups flour in a mixing bowl and add the yeast, salt and sugar. Stir until they are well blended. Pour in the hot water and beat with 100 strong strokes or about three minutes in a mixer.

Gradually work in the remaining flour (using fingers if necessary), ½ cup at a time until the dough takes shape and is no longer sticky.

Sprinkle the work surface with flour. Work in the flour as you knead, keeping a dusting of it between the dough and the work surface. Knead for ~8 minutes by hand or with a dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put in a warm (26-37°C/80-100°F) place until double in bulk, ~15-25 minutes.

Punch down the dough, turn it out on the work surface, and cut into two pieces. Shape each into a round. Place on a baking sheet dusted lightly with cornmeal.

With a sharp knife or razor, slash an X on each of the loaves, mist with water, and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds, if using.

Place the baking sheet on the middle shelf of a cold oven. Place a large pan of hot water on the shelf below, and heat the oven to 400°F (205°C). The bread will continue to rise while the oven is heating.

Bake for ~50 minutes, or until the loaves are golden and bottom crusts sound hard and hollow when thumped.

Cool on a wire rack for a bit before eating.
recipe adapted from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads
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Bread Baking Buddies (hosted/chosen by Bread Baking Babe Ilva at Lucullian Delights)
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