Back in the day I discovered (detected, more like) in Bernard Clayton’s (may he rest in peace) Complete Book of Breads, a recipe for Cuban Bread. It’s a very good story, and I encourage you to buy the book and read it ::: wink :::
It’s a versatile bread and VERY easy to make. So you can impress your friends, your neighbors…heck even the POPE**!!! (**Audience with Pope is your own responsibility).
So whay do I call it 4-3-2-1 bread? Good question…read on.
5 – 6 cups of White flour. You choose, some swear by bread flour because of the bromation, etc
2 packages of active dry yeast (or 3 tablespoons of instant yeast)
2 Tablespoons of sugar
1 Tablespoon of salt
2 cups of hot water (between 120 and 130 F).
Oh no! He hasn’t told me what to preheat my oven to! Whatever shall I do?? Relax! Relax, that’s coming.
Combine 4 cups of flower, yeast (3 tablespoons), sugar….yeah you’re getting it now …4, 3, 2, … and salt! Stir. Stir some more. Get all those dry ingredients mixed together. Now would be a good time to day dream about the comforting springs by the lakeshore when you first met that special inner tube you loved so much…ah it was in those days that…oh wait. Oops, sorry, sidetracked.
Ok, pour in the water. Stir Stir. I guess by now you’re thinking “I could do this in the mixer!” Yes! By all means! Until you have a soft ball of dough. At this point, either transfer the dough to a work surface or attach a dough hook to the mixer.
If you go by mixer, then add about a half cup of flower and let it knead for about 4 minutes.
If you go by hand, boy oh boy, I hope you have some more fond memories to…well…remember, as you knead the dough for about 8 minutes. Be sure to add flour as you go! Raise that dough up and slam it down a couple times, Bernard would instruct you! The English would say that you’re “knocking up” a loaf of bread!
Ok, put the dough under some plastic wrap or in a sealed bowl. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
Cut the dough in half, make two rounds and put them on a semi-greased cookie sheet. Pop them in the oven. Put a baking pan half full of hot water on the rack below. If you’d like to use a pan half empty of hot water, be my guest. Close the oven door and turn the oven on to 400F.
Check it in 45 minutes. You can either insert a thermometer into it and check for 170F or thump the bottom of the loaves. If it make a hollow sound…after a sound thumping…then it’s done!
Great bread, easy to make. Here are some Variations.
DILbert Bread – just add a teaspoon of dried dill. And substitute a half cup of potato flakes for the same amount of flour.
Go to Rome – Add a teaspoon of oregano, basil, and heck, throw some thyme in there!
Cinco De Mayo – One TSP of chili powder and if you dare, a half teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Sprinkle Cheese – add about a half a cup of Parmesan Cheese
Well that’s it for now! Happy Bread making!