My husband has a friend and coworker named Carlos Santana. Not the famous musician we all know that sing oh ya como va… but this Carlos can do a-mean salsa shimmy to the sounds. Carlos lives for his yearly Miami visits to get his authentic Cuban sandwich that (pending which side of town) has finer swiss to plastic wrapped American cheese. Most have ham, pulled pork, cheese, honey mustard and possible a salami of sorts. Grilled hot panini style pressed flatter then pancake using a cast iron skillet for the base and top for the press. The secret to the famous sandwich that even-movies write story lines around( aka Food Truck) is the bread.
Carlos talks of the bread that is so unique and required that nothing else would do! Nothing! Here is a mad that when he visits his Miami home he hand carries pre made sandwiches to share and freeze for treats. The airport K9 must love his carry on.
So of course I had to take the challenge. When I heard his Birthday was coming up- I had to deliver this bread.
From my research- as Carlos said- is definitely unique. Its a 24 hour process that cant be rushed. It requires an active starter. A mix of flour water and dry yeast that sits , and bubbles and I would dare say takes on a personality of its own. How fitting for a sandwich with such fire and fame. Possibly a bit possessed. I have a new respect…
Starter 24 hours ahead:
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 tsp water
- 2 tsp dry yeast
- Mix and cover w plastic wrap in a cool place to allow it to come to life.
I made mine in my bread-machine-dough setting. But all I read walked you thru basic bread mix with a rise time. A bit of talking to the dough and prayer was also noted. Yep.
Bread machine method.
- 1 cup warm water
- 4 tsp dry yeast
- 2 Tbs cup melted lard or crisco ( not hot)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 3.5 cups flour
- Water soaked bakers twine.
So the dough does have a extremely unique texture and feel. You can handle without flour and it sticking. If it does its just wring and throw it out. (This is read in the oldest of recipes) ha ha
I split mine in two and shaped two larger loaves. Next time Ill make three smaller loaves.
Take your dough and hand flatten into a rectangle. Fold in half lengthwise the roll into a loaf. Traditional- there is baking twine placed along top of loaf flipping to bottom to rest 20 minutes flipped back and baked in for the famous line in top. Scoring the bread with a knife is a no no. We are doing tradition here!
Bake 25 min at 425 degrees.
Never eat until it sits in open air 24 hours. ( another tradition- and texture requirement)
Finished product- I was quit proud and nervous to hear the feedback from Carlos. He would be honest.
He gave me a 95! Yay! But wait- what was missing? I want 100 percent perfect.
I guess the shape should be higher on the ends and thinner thru the middle. Ahhh! But still- I had never eaten this famous sandwich. When to my surprise it was delivered to my kitchen. Personally made by Carlos himself for us to panini.
We brushed with melted butter and smash grilled it in a hot iron skillet with a skillet on top. Wow!!! So stinking good!
No finished product pic… we ate it to fast!
Thank you Carlos Santana for teaching me some cuban culture and a new challenge for this Southern Country Cook!