A Cuban Sandwich

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A Cuban Sandwich

star rating (27) rate this recipe »
Published prior to 2008

Customers have written begging us to provide them with a recipe for Cuban bread, so that they can replicate sandwiches they had in Miami. Well, it doesn't take too many knocks in the head till we respond -- First, the Cuban bread. The recipe was very close to any other plain white bread formula, save for one interesting variation -- the use of lard as an ingredient. Lard, hmmm... what real difference could that make? Well, we discovered that, made with lard, this bread has a distinctive "salami-like" smell and taste, which happens to pair perfectly with the fillings in a Cuban sandwich. However, fresh lard being hard to come by, butter is a fine substitute. The bread has a fairly fine-grained texture, and semi-crusty, semi-chewy crust; we think it would be suitable for any type of meat-filled sandwich. We had some interesting reactions around the office while we were perfecting our Cuban sandwich recipe. Since we haven't been to Miami recently, we were hoping we were on the right track, but couldn't be sure. It was gratifying when one of the women on our accounting team gleefully grabbed a sandwich off the sample table, murmuring "Ah, a Cuban. I haven't had one of these in ages!" Seems she's a Miami-an, transplanted to the cold North. She says these sandwiches are very similar to what she enjoyed in Miami, though the ones in Miami were "much greasier." So feel free to spread lots of oil or butter on both the top and bottom crusts of the bread before grilling. Note that the recipe, as written, includes a marinade for the pork. While tasty, it's not essential; if you have leftover roast pork, or simply want to sauté or grill pork for this recipe without the marinade, go for it. Step-by-step photos illustrating how to make these sandwiches are available at the King Arthur blog.

Pan Cubano
4 cups (17 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) butter; or 3 tablespoons fresh lard, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) water

Roast Pork and Marinade
1 1/4 pounds boneless pork: roast, ribs, chops, or pork tenderloin
3 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoon paprika (preferably hot)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lime juice 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

Sandwich Filling
sliced roast pork
1/4 to 1/3 pound thinly sliced smoked ham
3/4 pound thinly sliced Swiss cheese
dill pickles, sliced (about 11 ounces; about 1 1/2 large "pickle barrel" pickles)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) melted butter or olive oil (1 3/4 ounces)

Manual Method: In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 hour, depending on the warmth of your kitchen. Gently fold the dough in upon itself and turn it upside-down after 30 minutes; this "turn" helps eliminate some of the excess carbon dioxide and redistributes the yeast's food, both imperative for optimum yeast growth.

Mixer Method: Combine the ingredients as directed at left, using a flat beater paddle or beaters, then switch to the dough hook(s) and knead for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise, with a turn, as directed above.

Bread Machine Method: Place all of the ingredients into the pan of your machine, program the machine for Manual or Dough, and press Start. Examine the dough about 10 minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle, and adjust its consistency with additional water or flour as needed, to produce a smooth, supple dough. Allow the machine to complete its cycle.

Divide the dough into six pieces, and shape each piece into a rough log. Let the logs rest for 15 minutes, covered, then shape each piece into a smooth batard shape (a log about 8 inches long, slightly tapered at each end). Place the loaves on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet.

Let the loaves rise, covered, for 1 hour. Brush or spray them with water, and slash one long lengthwise slit down the middle of each loaf. Preheat the oven to 375°F while the loaves are rising. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, or until it's golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and cool it on a rack. The loaves may be made one day in advance and stored at room temperature, or several weeks in advance and frozen. Yield: 6 sandwich loaves.

Roasting The Pork: Mix all of the marinade ingredients together (all of the ingredients except the pork), and rub this mixture over all surfaces of the pork. Cover well, and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours.

Place the pork in a roasting pan or ovenproof dish, and roast it in a preheated 425°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices, until cooked through. Remove the pork from the oven, and cool it completely before slicing thinly.

Sandwich Assembly: Slice the Cuban loaves in half horizontally. Brush the cut surfaces of the rolls with olive oil or melted butter. Layer the sandwiches as follows: Swiss cheese, sliced pickle, ham, sliced roast pork, then additional cheese.

Now comes the somewhat challenging part. You want to grill these sandwiches, top and bottom, while at the same time flattening them slightly. This helps meld all of the filling ingredients. Heat two large skillets, or a griddle, to medium, about 325°F. Lightly grease the griddle and/or skillets. Brush the bottoms of the sandwiches lightly with olive oil or melted butter. Place them in the greased pan(s). Brush the tops with oil or butter. Top them with a piece of parchment paper or foil, then a flat sheet pan, or other flat, non-meltable object—the point is to provide a flat surface for a weight. Place something heavy atop the pan—a teakettle filled with water makes a good weight, as does a clean brick wrapped in aluminum foil.

Grill the sandwiches for 5 to 7 minutes over medium heat, checking often to make sure the bottoms aren't burning. Adjust the heat downward if the bottoms are becoming brown after only a couple of minutes. Turn the sandwiches over and grill for several more minutes, until they're slightly crisp on both sides, and the cheese is melting. Remove from the heat, and serve warm. Yield: 6 sandwiches, 12 servings.

Nutrition information per serving (1 loaf, 129g): 338 cal, 6g fat, 8g protein, 56g complex carbohydrates, 3g sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 6mg cholesterol, 712mg sodium, 119mg potassium, 4mg iron, 2mg calcium, 83mg phosphorus.

Nutrition information per serving (1/2 of 1 sandwich, 202g): 451 cal, 20g fat, 31g protein, 31g complex carbohydrates, 4g sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 85mg cholesterol, 1425mg sodium, 433mg potassium, 126 RE vitamin A, 3mg vitamin C, 3mg iron, 291mg calcium, 418mg phosphorus.

This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XI, No. 2, Winter 2000 issue.


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  • star rating 02/25/2015
  • Sylvia from okc
  • I live in Oklahoma but have gone to Tampa for the last 35 years to visit relatives and to Ebor City to the Silver Ring bar for Cuban sandwiches until they closed in the late 1990's. I made this bread for Cubans a few days ago but I proofed my yeast as I always do by putting the yeast, warm water, and sugar in a warmed porcelain bowl for 15 minutes to be sure my yeast was alive to start with and that I didn't kill it with too hot water. It bubbled up and then I added this to the flour, salt, and lard in my mixing bowl and combined. I changed to the dough hook from the paddle and let it knead for 8 minutes. I followed all the other directions except when the buns were rising, I slashed the tops, brushed them with water and put them in my bottom oven that was not on along with a full kettle of boiling water and closed the door. They doubled! We made Cubans and pressed them in a panini press. The only thing was that the bread was so fresh it crushed a little too much but the taste is definitely Cuban according to my husband who has been eating these for 60 years! Actually making more right now!
    Sylvia, we are thrilled to hear that this recipe was given the thumbs-up by people who truly know and appreciate Cuban food! Thanks for sharing your tips and adjustments so that others can give it a go and see if they are as pleased as you were with the results. Happy baking! --Kye@KAF
  • 08/28/2014
  • BonJon from Raleigh
  • LOL going to give this a spin this weekend, sounds wonderful! multigrain sourdough boule today, though. In looking through these comments for tips: Tell Phil22, who was a new transplant to Albuqueque NM from Tampa, that he's gone from sea level to somewhere around a mile high! Elevations around Albuqueque range from 4900' to over 10,000 near the top of their hills! A website lists downtown as being 5,280' - a mile high. They may straddle the Rio Grande, but it's strictly high altitude baking! WAY UP there. I helped a friend in Idaho Falls (elevation 4700') move there in 1979. She was talking on the drive down that she would not have to change her bread recipes. I'll bet Phil22 doesn't know about changing recipes for altitude!
  • star rating 08/18/2014
  • Julietta from Houston, TX
  • Please consider updating this page since it is wrong. The correct Cubano bread is called PAN DE AGUA (water bread) and is similar to a baguette, but is placed in a cold, not preheated oven, while still utilizing the steaming technique. This is not the correct bread for a Cubano, this is called PAN SOBAO (lard bread). When you make a Cubano with pan sobao, it is called a medianoche (midnight).
  • star rating 02/02/2014
  • Robin from Mandan, ND
  • It's better to follow the recipe and make this dough into buns. I made it as a loaf in the bread maker. The crust is like a cracker and it's slightly doughy inside. The fellow that had issues with the bread rising--sounds like he needs to get new yeast--it rose high in the bread maker with SAF Gold yeast I got in November from KAF.
  • star rating 10/13/2013
  • Mrs. Chiu from Delaware, OH
  • A fantastic roll! i did add 4 T. easy roll bread improver and for the water used a combination of whey (leftover from kefir making) and potato water. Other than that followed recipe. very soft, flavorful bread that I will use to make Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches with tonite.
  • star rating 06/28/2013
  • Poketigger from
  • Does make a wonderful sandwich bread, although I can't get the crunch when we bite into it. Every things right, just that crunch and that could be some thing i missed.
  • star rating 10/23/2012
  • phil22 from KAF Community
  • Just tried this recipe again after about 6 tries and 2 calls to the King's Bakers. My bread is still not rising enough, the loaves end up about 1 inch thick although the dough behaves normally durring the process. It seems to rise sideways more than up. I'm starting to wonder if the ingredients list is correct. Here's a post I made elsewhere on this site that still applies today. We?re Tampa FL transports to Albuquerue NM and really miss the Columbia Resturant?s Cuban and 1905 salad. I just started to learn to bake, specifically to make Cuban Bread. I?ve tried 2 different bread recipes, gotten from the Internet, and even ended up buying a KitchenAide 6 Qt Pro mixer thinking I wasn?t kneading properly. The problem; loaves come out too flat. The dough batch seems to rise properly but when divided into loaves they never rise up enough. The flavor was always good just something wrong. My neighbor said to use King Arthur flour so I bought a bag of the Bread mix. Much better rise but not perfect, yet. Your recipe here had slightly different amounts and used the General Purpose flour, that?ll be my next attempt. By the way, the Columbia?s recipe for a Cuban pays particular attention to the order of the ingrdients; ham, pork, salami, swiss cheese, pickles and yellow mustard on the top. Then use a sandwich press and your off to the races. Oh yes, don?t forget the fried plantians in olive oil.
    Please give us a call on the baker's hotline so we can discuss the issues with your dough not rising. 800-827-6836. ~Amy
  • star rating 09/08/2012
  • hank264 from KAF Community
  • My bro-in-law is an accomplished chef and owned a Cuban restaurant in Miami Prior to retiring. I made this for him and he raved. This is as good as the 200 or so Cuban's I've eaten in my time, but less greasy, which is my preference. I eat whole grains almost exclusively, with THIS as one of few exceptions.
  • star rating 08/07/2012
  • Brenda M. from KAF Community
  • These sandwiches are wonderful. I have made them twice. Everyone that tries them wants to overeat as they are so good. I took them to my best friends office yesterday for everyone's lunch. BIG HIT.
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