Cuban Baguette Bread

 photo 60621CAC-602B-458F-ACFE-BC63CF79D55D_zpsykuhslef.jpgThis recipe is similar to my Easy Cuban Bread loaves recipe, but baked and shaped differently.  It still provides a crunchy crust on the outside, but a soft texture inside. I mix the dough in my bread machine, shape, and finish in the oven.

This makes 3 baguettes or two french bread style loaves.  Whichever way you choose to shape and bake, the loaves freeze well.  

Note that this bread is very similar to classic French bread, with the main difference being the ratio of liquid to flour, rising time, and how the loaves are shaped for baking. Cuban bread is quicker to make and simply rolled or stretch into a "log," while French bread dough is flattened, then rolled up and pinched at seams as layers are formed to shape a loaf. 

This bread is perfect for serving with soups, salads, or pasta dishes.  It's handy to have on hand for slicing into thin rounds and topping with appetizers or cheese spreads.
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I have baguette pans, but you can shape into loafs and bake on a sheet pan. My smaller baguette pan makes three 12-13 inches long loaves, and my larger pan, makes two larger 12-13 inches long loaves.  The non-stick perforated pans sell for around  $15 or less and make evenly shaped baked loaves, allowing for even heat circulation while baking.

Cuban Baguette Bread
3 cups bread flour
3 tsp. salt
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 tsp. yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water

olive oil for brush afterwards optional

Place everything in a bread machine, according to instructions, and turn to the dough setting. Usually liquids go in first, then salt and sugar, then flour and lastly, yeast on top.

Once the cycle is complete, let dough rest in the warm machine for another 30-45 minutes. Remove to shape for a second rise.  (If using a mixer or mixing by hand, combine and mix all ingredients, knead shape into a mound and place in a greased bowl, cover and let rest for at least a half hour.)
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Divide into 3 equal portions and roll out and stretch into log-like loaves, dust with a generous portion of flour and place in baguette pan.  Let the dough rest and rise again doubling in size in a warm place. (Or divide into two french bread style loaves.)

For a more professional look, make 3 or 4 angled slashes across the tops with a razor blade or sharp knife.  Lightly spray or brush tops of loaves with water.

Bake on middle rack of oven at 450 until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes, depending on loaf sizes. Check at 20 minutes and add more time if needed. I sometimes brush with olive oil afterwards to bring out the golden color and give the surface a glossy look.

Estimated cost: .60 cents or less for three baguettes; .20 cents or less per baguette

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