Cuban bread is a fairly simple white bread, similar to French bread and Italian bread, but has a slightly different baking method and ingredient list (in particular, it generally includes a small amount of fat in the form of lard
or vegetable shortening
); it is usually made in long, baguette
-like loaves. It is a staple of Cuban-American cuisine and is traditionally the bread of choice when making an authentic Cuban sandwich.
A traditional loaf of Cuban bread is approximately three feet long and somewhat rectangular crossways (as compared to the rounder shape of Italian or French bread loaves). It has a hard, thin, almost papery toasted crust and a soft flaky middle. In the early days, the dough was stretched thin to make it last, creating the bread's distinctive air pockets and long shape. As they have for decades, La Segunda and other traditional Cuban bread makers lay a long, moist palm frond on top of the loaves before baking, creating a shallow trench in the upper crust, producing an effect similar to the slashing of a European-style loaf.
Cuban bread is the necessary base for a 'Cuban sandwich' (sometimes called a "sandwich mixto"). It can also be served as a simple breakfast, especially toasted and pressed with butter and served alongside (and perhaps dunked into) a hot mug of cafe con leche (strong dark-roasted Cuban coffee with scalded milk).
Cuban bread should be eaten soon after baking, as it tends to go stale quickly. It can also be frozen.
Stale Cuban bread is the preferred "weapon of choice" in protests performed by the Conch Republic.