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Feb 10, 2018

Cuban Bread {Pan Cubano de Manteca}

This Cuban Bread, or Pan Cubano de Manteca, is a take on the bread produced from Cuban bakeries. 

Cuban Bread {Pan Cubano de Manteca}

Cuban bread begins with a starter to develop flavor, and is distinguished by the inclusion of lard in the dough.

The crust for this Cuban bread is eggshell thin and crisp, and the interior is very soft.

Cuban Bread {Pan Cubano de Manteca}

The key to this bread is a long kneading time. If you knead this dough by hand, you will need at least 20 to 30 minutes. If you knead the dough with a stand mixer, you should knead it for 15 minutes.

In Cuban bakeries, evidently this bread is passed through a sobadora, a machine that is similar to a dough laminator. You can divide your dough and pass it 20 times through a pasta machine, if you have one, to duplicate the process. For this bread, I used a stand mixer to mix the dough, rolled it out with a rolling pin, and then shaped the loaves.

When you are done kneading, you roll the final dough into a thin 10 inch by 10 inch rectangle, and then you form it into a loaf, similar to a mini baguette.

Cuban Bread {Pan Cubano de Manteca} shaped before baking

This bread is ideal for Cuban sandwiches. The crust becomes super crunchy when toasted in the oven and then pressed down in a panini press after being filled with meats and cheeses.

Cuban Bread {Pan Cubano de Manteca}

Most of the dough for this Cuban bread is made in advance and allowed to develop flavor. After the "sponge" is developed and allowed to rise, the rest of the the ingredients are added and the dough is shaped and allowed to rise. It may seem counter intuitive, but the method works.

The bread is best the day it is made. Leftover loaves should be wrapped in foil and then plastic wrap, and then kept in the freezer to preserve freshness.

Here are a few more breads from around the world:

After the recipe, check out more wonderful Cuban recipes from my fellow bloggers. 

Yield: 4 eight ounce loaves

Cuban Bread


For the Sponge
  • 1 cup warm (110 degrees F) water
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 16 ounces bread flour
Final Dough
  • 1/4 cup warm (110 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch of instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons melted lard
  • 2 to 5 ounces bread flour (I used 2.8 ounces)


To Make the Sponge
  1. Mix the water, yeast, and flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at least 8 hours, and preferably overnight. 
To Make the Final Dough
  1. Add the water, sugar, salt, and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix in the lard. Add the sponge and mix with the dough hook until incorporated. 
  2. Add the flour, by tablespoon, until you have a cohesive dough. I used about 2.8 ounces.
  3. Mix with the dough hook for 15 minutes on low until smooth and elastic. (see notes above regarding kneading by hand or pasta machine). 
  4. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a 10 inch by 10 inch square. Roll the dough into a log, tapering the ends and pinching the seam closed. Place the logs onto a parchment lined baking sheet or pizza peel and cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, approximately 60 to 90 minutes. 
  5. One hour before baking, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with a baking stone (if you have one) on the middle rack and a broiler pan on the bottom rack. Fill a spray bottle with water. 
  6. When the bread has doubled in size, lightly slash the loaves down the center with a very sharp knife or a lame. Place two cups of boiling water into the broiler pan, and slide the loaves, parchment and all, onto the pizza stone. If you don't have a pizza stone, place the baking sheet with the loaves on the middle rack. Spray the sides of the oven with water and close the door. Reduce the oven heat to 450 degrees F. 
  7. Spray the oven with water 3 more times during the first 10 minutes of baking with water. Bake the loaves for a total of 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. 
Check out all the wonderful Cuban dishes my fellow Eat the World blogger friends have prepared for #eattheworld:

Cuban Bread {Pan Cubano de Manteca}

Would you like to comment?

  1. Nothing beats homebaked bread and I know the sandwiches made with these loaves turned out amazing...filled as they were with love.

  2. that is amazing, Karen... I heard about it, but had no idea how it's made.

    pretty involved, but definitely worth the effort! so beautiful, from crust to soft crumb...

    1. Thank you Sally! I have a Cuban friend who gave it her stamp of approval =) I skipped the twenty turns in a pasta maker, so it actually wasn't too hard. The dough isn't super wet either, which makes it easier to handle.

    2. I am sure that made you do a happy dance! Approval from a Cuban friend... yeah, that's enough to make one happy!


    3. You know it! It would be like if you approved a Brazilian recipe that I made. =)

  3. You and your breads! This is going on my to-do list now that my husband is no longer gluten-free. Baking was such drudgery when he was gluten-free.

    1. I bet it was hard! Baking bread is so satisfying to me. I bet your elves would enjoy it too.

  4. Wow Karen, so impressed by you bread skills. This Cuban bread looks amazing. And here I am starving! So happy to have you part of the group!

  5. These are gorgeous loaves! Such a perfect color and even crumb! I bet they tasted fantastic!

  6. I love this bread! It looks incredible, with a nice crust and a soft crumb. Amazing job! So glad to be part of this group :-) .

  7. Gorgeous! I love a great bread recipe!

  8. These look awesome. I don't see where you add the lard to the dough though?

    1. Thanks Sarah. I just fixed the recipe! Add it before adding the flour. Enjoy!

  9. Hi, Karen,
    Those buns look so tasty! This will be my next Bread 'project'...
    Is it possible to use Butter instead of lard? The same amount?

  10. I have mixed the flour, water and tease for the sponge, and I am not getting a traditional sponge. Thx Ken

    1. Not sure why. You might want to check your yeast, or if it's fine, you might need more time due to your kitchen temp.

    2. Is the 16 oz of flour by volume or weight?


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