This morning I baked two loaves of Cuban bread, and I have already eaten half of one of the loaves. The recipe is for beginner-level bread bakers so give it a try. You can either knead the dough by hand, or use the dough hook on your mixer. There is nothing like fresh bread right from the oven!
From Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads
YIELD - 2 plump loaves
5 to 6 cups of bread or all-purpose flour, approximately
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups hot water (120-130 degrees F)
Sesame or poppy seeds (optional)
1. This recipe requires one baking sheet, Teflon, greased, or sprinkled with cornmeal, or lined with parchment paper.
2. Mixing - Place 4 cups flour in a large 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 3 minutes with a mixer flat beater. Gradually work in the remaining flour (using fingers if necessary), 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough takes shape and is no longer sticky.
3. Kneading - 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, elastic, and feels alive under your hands.
4. Rising - Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put in a warm place (80-100 degrees F) until double in bulk, about 15 minutes.
5. Shaping - Punch down the dough, turn it out on the work surface, and cut into 2 pieces. Shape each into a round. Place on the baking sheet. With a sharp knife or razor, slash an X on each of the loaves, brush with water, and, if desired, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.
6. Baking - 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 degrees F. The bread, or course, will continue to rise while the oven is heating. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the loaves are a deep golden brown. Thump on the bottom crusts to test for doneness. If they sound hard and hollow, they are baked. (If using a convection oven, reduce heat 50 degrees).
7. Turn the loaves out onto metal racks and cool before slicing. It freezes well.