My Real Cuban Bread Recipe

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Thinking about introducing some Cuban flavor in your cuisine?  Here is my Cuban bread recipe, the real one that uses lard to give the famous taste you can’t find anywhere but at homes of real Cubans.

Many consider Cuban food one of the more famous Latin American cuisines–and with good reason. Caribbean and African flavors, like plantains and light citrus-based sauces, infuse this island nation’s cuisine and make it like a foreign vacation for your mouth. Even Cuban bread seems exotic thanks to the special Cuban bread recipe everyone uses.

You might wonder how to get the authentic taste of Cuban cooking without actually visiting Cuba. Well, you can visit one of the areas popular with Cuban Americans, like Chicago, Union City New Jersey, or “Little Havana” in South Florida, where you can find delicious Cuban dishes at restaurants and bakeries.

If you can’t find an authentic Cuban restaurant near you, you’ll just have to do all the cooking yourself. To start with, try making some Cuban sandwiches. They don’t require any impossible to find ingredients like plantain or yucca root, so you can enjoy hot, crusty Cuban sandwiches anywhere you can buy roast pork or ham, Swiss cheese, and mustard. Of course, you still need the Cuban bread. Fortunately, you can make it at home using this authentic Cuban bread recipe.

Cuban Bread Recipe

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1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of yeast and 2 teaspoons of sugar in 1/4 cup of warm water. Let the mixture stand in a warm area for about 10 minutes. It should get very foamy and nearly double in size.

2. Heat 1/4 cup of lard in the microwave for about 90 seconds until fully melted. Yes, you have to use lard. No substitutes!

3. Sift together 2 cups of bread flour and 2 cups of all-purpose flour.

4. Pour the yeast mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of warm water and 2 teaspoons of salt.

5. Begin adding the sifted flour and the melted lard to the yeast and water mixture a little bit at a time. You want to add enough flour so that the dough becomes elastic. Usually this means about 3 1/4 cups of your sifted flour.

6. When your dough looks good, knead it for about 10 minutes on a flat surface lightly dusted with flour.

7. Grease up a large bowl and place your kneaded dough ball inside. Roll the dough around so it picks up some grease on all sides.

8. Cover the bowl with a moist kitchen towel and let it rest for in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until you see the dough just about double in size. If your kitchen isn’t that warm, you can preheat your oven to 160F, then shut it off and let the dough rest in there.

9. Using a rolling pin, roll out the risen dough on a floured surface. Then roll up the flattened dough into a cylinder. Pinch the ends shut with your fingers and a bit of water.

10. Place the cylinder (seam side down) onto a baking sheet that has been greased and sprinkled with a bit of cornmeal.

11. Allow the bread to rise again for another hour. Drape some plastic wrap over it so it doesn’t dry out.

12. Preheat your oven to 450F with a pan of water inside on the lowest rack.

13. Make a shallow cut down the center of the bread, and brush the surface lightly with water.

14. Bake for 5 minutes, then brush again with water.

15. Bake for 12-18 more minutes until lightly browned and crispy!

That is all you need, some time and ingredients and enjoy!  When you make this recipe please let me know how did it come out, I would love you to share your experience.

El Halloween in Latin America

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El Halloween in Latin America undoubtedly came from the strong influence North America and specially the U.S. has always exerted on our Latin countries.  If we look back at where all started, Halloween or All Hallows Eve has ancient roots stretching back to the times of the Druids, when people believed evil spirits roamed the earth on October 31 and had to be collected by the Lord of Darkness, Lord Samhain.

Over the centuries the holiday transformed into a much more commercial event more about cheap thrills than any real spiritual connection to the world of the dead. Like many aspects of American culture, the American version of Halloween has spread to many other countries, including Hispanic ones.

Today, we widely celebrate Halloween in Latin America as an excuse for a party in many major cities, though communities in the countryside largely ignore Halloween in favor of All Saints Day, I guess because of our Roman Catholic background that stemmed from the conquest.

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If you’re looking to experience Halloween in South America, get ready to find Halloween parties in bars and clubs from Argentina to Colombia. In Peru Halloween has to compete with a Creole music event, so Peruvians don’t widely celebrate it even in the cities, but you can always find an expat bar with a few plastic pumpkins and a costume party.

Chileans call call Halloween la Noche de Brujas and Bolivians call it El Jailonween in reference to the wealthy expat Jailon Paceños that popularized it. But perhaps no other country knows how to throw a Hispanic Halloween like Colombia.

Main Aspects of Halloween in Colombia

Costumes: Adults and children wear costumes on the day and night of Halloween. Many adults even wear their costumes to work in offices and stores. For children, the costumes tend to be more fun than scary. You’ll see a lot of superheroes, cartoon characters, princesses, pirates, etc. but probably no vampires or soldiers. You’ll notice one major difference from the American sort of Halloween costumes in that not many in Colombia have their entire face covered with a mask.

School Activities: Most schools celebrate Halloween with special events that parents are encouraged to attend. For example there might be a Halloween play or a costume parade with the parents as judges for awards like “best costume.”

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Kids typically also get to enjoy special Halloween treats including candy and baked goods, and teachers often decorate their rooms with all the traditional symbols of Halloween like ghosts, spiders, witches, and jack-o-lanterns.

Trick or Treating: Parents do take their costumed children trick or treating for Halloween in Colombia. The kids call “tricky tricky Halloween” and receive candy from their neighbors. Families that don’t have a nice neighborhood to trick or treat in go to malls and shopping centers in the early evening, where a special trick or treat session takes place with the kids going around to each store and receiving candy.

Parties: Of course no Halloween in Latin America would be complete without a party. In Colombia, you will see the somewhat surprising sight of costumed people dancing to Salsa, either in the bars and clubs or in individual families’ homes.

Celebrating Halloween in Latin America can be very similar to that of the US however, we mix in our traditions when partying and enjoying the foods.  We celebrate with lots of candy and costumes but if we can throw in tamales, picada, and some delicious drinks like coke and rum, guaro and tequila it all improves.

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