I love to make bread and, over the years, have developed a few shortcuts to some great slow rise methods. This Cuban Roll is a very simple dough, flour, water, yeast, sugar and salt. I’ll start with a sponge and then, since it only has a 1-loaf or 12-roll yield, so I can utilize the food processor for the mixing. I am shortcutting some of the labor but lengthening the time to allow full flavor development.
1 tsp yeast, 1 tbsp flour.
The yeast is proofing prior to adding more flour.
Add 1 cup of flour to the yeast mixture.
Stir 100 times in the same direction with a wooden spoon.
Cover loosely and set aside overnight.
Looks similar to pancake batter.
It’s getting a spongier – look to the surface.
shape into a ball and place in prepared bag.
A very sponge like appearance.
8 hours later it has risen to the top.
Prepare a gallon zipper bag with a light oil or butter.
Add the sponge to the flour/sugar/salt in the processor bowl.
Process for 20 seconds after it forms a loose ball.
Loosely formed dough ball.
In the bag, air squeezed out.
In the oven with ice for steam.
I start with a large measuring cup that will allow me to proof and sponge in the same vessel. After proofing the yeast in 1 cup of room temp water with a tablespoon of flour (never sugar…sugar can over-excite the yeast and I like to keep it mellow). To make the sponge I simply add 1 cup of flour and then, with a wooden spoon, stir 100 times in the same direction. This helps to form the fragile gluten strands and prevent breaking them. Cover it with plastic and set it in an out of the way spot for 8 hours or over night. (I usually do this before bed so that I can do the next steps before leaving for a busy day.)
Into the processor I put 2 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 tablespoon of salt. Give it a couple of quick pulses, then add the sponge and 1/4 cup of tepid water. Pulse until it comes together in a loose dough ball, then process for 20 seconds. This dough is shaped into a ball and then it goes into a lightly oiled, gallon-sized ziploc bag. Press out any air and place in the fridge for 2 to 24 hours. It won’t rise double high so don’t be too concerned. The yeast is being allowed to do its thing slowly so that you get great texture and flavor without the “shazam” effect of fast rising. You won’t be sorry.
A couple of hours before you are ready to bake it set the bag on the counter and deflate. Let it sit about an hour (it will do a small rise). Then remove from the bag and knead several times before shaping into a loaf or rolls. I then cut the bag so it lies flat open and cover the dough, oiled side of bag down. Then a dish cloth on to keep it in place. This keeps the dough from sticking to the fabric.
When it has risen nicely take the cover and bag off and place in a 400 degree oven. Dump a large bowl of ice in the bottom of your oven or in an old pie pan on the lowest rack to create a steamy environment and let it bake. Do not peak during the first 10 minutes or so or the steam will escape and you’ll lose that crispy crust it creates.
1 cup Water (room temp)
1 tsp active-dry yeast
1 tbsp flour (all purpose, unbleached)
1 cup flour (all purpose, unbleached)
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1/4 cup water (room temp)
For the sponge:
In a large measuring cup (8 cups) add 1 cup water and stir in yeast and 1 tbsp flour. Let sit for a few minutes until yeast dissolves and a little foaminess starts. Stir in the cup of flour. Stir 100 times with a wooden spoon in one direction. Scrape down sides and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Set aside for 8 hours or overnight.
You can mix the next part by hand or in a large mixer but I like to utilize my food processor for this part. In the bowl put the 2 cups of flour, sugar and salt. Pulse just to mix. Pour in sponge and 1/4 cup of water. Pulse until it comes together loosely then process for 20 seconds. Be careful not to over mix!
Shape into a ball and place in an oiled gallon ziploc bag. Let rise or place in the fridge for 2 to 24 hours. Let sit on counter for about an hour to warm up if it’s been in the fridge. Deflate. Using a parchment lined cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal, shape the dough into a loaf or 12 rolls. Cover lightly and let rise until double. Bake at 400 for 20 to 25 minutes, until internal temp is 190.