I’ve updated my sandwich roll recipe to incorporate some helpful feedback from someone I know who grew up in Tampa. Of course, don’t just use these for Cubans. Moist and soft, with a subtle fragrance, they’ll raise any good sandwich’s game. Enjoy! ;o) —AntoniaJames
4 long rolls - each is long enough, in our house, for 2 cubans
FOR THE SPONGE Start this well in advance.
125 grams bread flour
125 grams filtered water, room temperature
¼ teaspoon instant (also called “Rapid-Rise”) yeast
FOR THE BREAD
All of the sponge
210 grams filtered water, room temperature
2 teaspoons / 10 ml / 7 grams instant yeast
1 tablespoon / 15 ml / 12 grams raw sugar
48 grams lard or organic, non-hydrogenated shortening
375 grams bread flour
7 grams kosher salt
1 teaspoon olive or neutral vegetable oil (for the bowl)
A handful or so of semolina, or whole wheat flour, for shaping and dusting
MAKE THE SPONGE: Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let sit for 4-6 hours at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before using.
MIX THE DOUGH: Add the 210 grams of water to the sponge, along with the sugar and the yeast. Stir until well blended. Add 125 grams of the bread flour, and the lard or shortening, and beat well to form a smooth paste.
Add the remaining flour and then sprinkle over it all the salt. Mix to incorporate fully the flour. It will be shaggy and may even appear a bit dry. Cover with a tea towel and let sit for at least 30 minutes (up to 40 minutes).
KNEAD THE DOUGH: Knead the dough for 3 – 4 minutes if you plan to let it rise overnight in the fridge, or 8 – 10 minutes if you plan to shape and make the rolls on the same day.
If baking the same day: Clean the bowl and drizzle it with a teaspoon or so of oil. Put the dough into the bowl; flip it over, so the ball is coated with oil. Cover with a tea towel and let it rise, 1 – 2 hours, depending on the temperature of the room.
If letting it rise overnight, drizzle a teaspoon or so of oil into a large container with a tight fitting lid. Put the dough into the box; then, flip it over, so the ball is coated with oil. Cover tightly and put directly into the fridge.
SHAPE THE DOUGH: After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a work surface generously sprinkled with semolina or whole wheat flour. Press the ball down into a rectangle, about 8 x 10". Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.
Using a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut the rectangle into 4 long rectangles. Fold each piece lengthwise, and then press it down while pulling the ends to lengthen and shape. I usually give the ends a little pinch.
Sprinkle a bit more semolina on a large piece of parchment. Put the rolls on the paper, about 3-4 inches apart; cover with a tea towel and let them rise until the dough springs back to the touch, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 500 degrees. It’s best to use a pizza stone – I use refractory kiln tiles from a pottery supply place – but if you don’t have one, a high quality baking sheet will do.
BAKE THE BREAD: When the rolls have risen, give them a light slash lengthwise with a lame, if you want.
Put the rolls on the hot pizza stone – I use a cookie sheet with an open side, and slide the paper and rolls off all at once by giving the cookie sheet a quick jerk – and immediately turn down the oven temperature to 475.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until gently browned and the internal temperature is 205 degrees.
Remove and let cool on a wire rack before slicing.
This recipe was contributed by Food52 member AntoniaJames.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)