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Jul 20, 2007 08:40 AM

Bread Substitution for Cuban Sandwiches?

Hello fellow Chowhounds!
I am throwing a cocktail party tomorrow night that has a cuban/latin flair to it. I am planning on making cuban sandwiches but do not have access to cuban bread here in the deep South (Birmingham). I would like to use the bread at a local artisanal bakery but I'm not sure what type to get. French bread would be way too hard especially after I press it on the stovetop; ciabatta is too airy and probably would not be strong enough to hold in all the filling.

Would a round boule or something like that work?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I saw Alton Brown use hoagies as his bread. Traditional Cuban toast should have lots of crumbs; many Cuban restaurants do use French bread.

    2 Replies
    1. re: digkv

      I live in the S Florida area and I'm pretty sure that Cuban restos do NOT use French bread. It's got to be more flattenable. I know when I get a pan tostada (bread flattened and toasted in a press thing), it's definitely not like French bread. I think the bread's probably less dense. Sorry, I don't have a suggestion for what to use. Living in SoFla I guess we can get pan cubano anywhere....You might do a google search for cuban bread or ask at your local grocery store.

      1. re: amyvc

        sorry, I wrote that incorrectly. What I meant to say is that most of the Cuban restaurants where I live do use French bread, which is not good. Cuban sandwiches really do need the unique crumb of Cuban bread. I live in orange county, ca where there are some really good Cuban restaurants but few use actual cuban bread, for that I drive up to Porto's in Glendale for.

    2. Don't know about your neck of the woods, but the Harris Teeters around me carry cuban bread in their bakery department. Tastes pretty good, too.

      I've had Cuban sandwiches on french bread. Once. The roof of my mouth is still bleeding.

      1. After doing some research, I learned that cuban bread is kind of eggy and has a sweetness to it. I was not able to find a comparable bread at my favorite bakery and the idea of using King's Hawaiian bread came to mind. I've only had it once or twice a long time ago, but that is exactly how I remember it to be--very soft and w/a pillowlike consistency. I'll post an update after my party tomorrow and let you know how it tasted!

        4 Replies
        1. re: gyp7318

          you could also try buying those "bake-your own" loafs of French bread, if your grocery store has them. They're usually parbaked and still white. I imagine if you used them like that, pressing them would cook them, but not make them too crusty/hard to eat

          1. re: gyp7318

            Hawiaan King's bread is also sweet, what about using Portugese rolls...

            1. re: chef chicklet

              Unfortunately, I have never seen Portugese rolls in Birmingham. There's not much of a portugese population here.

            2. re: gyp7318

              Medianoche bread is eggy. Cuban bread isn't--it's the lard or shortening that gives it the soft consistency.

            3. Hi everyone,
              The sandwiches were a hit last night. My friends were raving about how good it tasted. To make the sandwich, I got the round loaf of the Hawaiian bread, cut it horizontally. Roasted a garlic-onion marinated pork tenderloin from Costco the night before, cooled it, and cut it thinly. Put a layer of Jarlsberg swiss cheese on the bottom of the bread, layered the pork tenderloin, a layer of Black Forest ham, dill pickles, and then the top of the bread. Slide the loaf back onto the aluminum pan the bread came in. Heat a skillet on medium heat until hot. Invert the sandwich onto the hot pan, put a cast iron skillet on top of the sandwich to press it down. The bread almost burned at one point and the cheese had not yet melted so be careful about that. Put the aluminum pan on top of the sandwich,slice it off onto a plate, invert the plate onto the skillet and press again w/the skillet. I made two loafs in advance and held them in a 225 degree oven until I needed them. By then, the flavors had kind of married and the cheese had melted. They were delicious!

              1. Authentic Cuban bread (just like Puerto Rican Pan de Agua), is just water, flour, yeast, salt, lard, and a little bit of sugar. It is not supposed to be sweet. I guess any bread made this way would fit the substitute bill. French bread and hoagie rolls for example. The technique of making Cuban bread is different, hence the difference in crust between the Cuban bread and the French Bread. You can google this technique and try making it if you can't purchase Pan Cubano or Pan de Agua, because a Cuban sandwich is just not the same on any other bread...good luck! :-)