Last weekend I made a stew/beef dish that was heavily inspired by the beef with cocoa and red wine that I made a few years ago. I'm very glad I did on such a cold weekend. The weather likewise demanded that I make bread.
It's been a little while since I'd baked bread, but I didn't plan ahead particularly well. My sourdough starter wasn't fed and I didn't have the time to make anything too involved. I wanted crusty bread, and I originally thought I wanted a whole wheat bread, but as I browsed recipes and thought about the stew I was making, I decided I didn't want something so... wheaty.
Cuban bread to the rescue! (Original source is no longer there.) I have no idea if this recipe is authentic. But, this bread looked like it had a nice, crunchy crust, and it was going to be fast. Making this bread was simple. You simply mix and knead the dough, let it rise 15-30 minutes, shape, and bake with no oven preheating. Although this bread baked for 50 minutes (a little on the long side), the use of hot water in the dough ensured a shorter rise.
I halved this recipe because I didn't want Alex and I to have to struggle to eat a bunch of bread. (A hardship, I know.)
This was a tasty bread. It had a nice, crisp crust that wasn't too hard. The inside was dense and only a little chewy. The bread was bready and yeasty, in great ways. I can see how well this dense and sturdy bread would stand up to its namesake Cuban sandwich. I was very satisfied with how the loaf turned out.
I made this bread because it sounded incredibly quick and easy to make. It was both, and was delicious as well. I'm glad I made it, and I encourage you to try it as well some time when you'd like fresh bread but haven't given yourself quite enough time to make a different recipe.
This delicious crusty bread recipe can be made very quickly, thanks to the use of hot water in the dough.
- 2 ½ - 3 cups flour (I used 1 cup bread flour, ½ cup white whole wheat flour, and the rest was all-purpose)
- 2 ¼ teaspoons dry active yeast
- ½ tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup hot water
Place flour in your stand mixer with the yeast, salt, and sugar. Mix it together and add 1 cup hot water. [I heated my water in a tea kettle, but added some room temperature water to it before adding it to the flour and yeast so it wouldn't be too hot. I don't trust the hot water from my old apartment pipes.] Mix on low-medium speed with the dough hook for 3 minutes.
Add more flour (I added ⅜ cups) to get the dough to firm up to the point that it's not sticky. Knead it for about 4 minutes with the stand mixer, until the dough is elastic and passes the windowpane test. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 15 minutes. (My water was too cold - this ended up taking 30 minutes for me.)
Once it was fully risen, gently deflate it and shape it into a boule or ball, stretching the top surface and tucking the dough into the bottom. Place the dough on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet and slash the top of the dough. (I did an amazing job shaping the dough, because when I slashed an X into the top of the bread, my knife really cut for the first time; in fact, it cut a little too well through some layers of dough because my loaf split open as it baked.)
Place the dough on the middle rack in a cold oven. Place a metal pan on the bottom rack and fill it with boiling water. Next, turn on the oven to 400F and bake the bread for 50 minutes. Let your bread cool about an hour before cutting it. (I only let mine cool for 20, but it's easier to cut and your slices will be more even if you wait longer.)