The 9 Best Substitutes For Cuban Bread
If you have ever had a slice of Cuban bread, then you know it is absolutely to die for! But unfortunately, these loaves are quite difficult to come by. And, let’s be honest, who has the time or energy to make bread from scratch?
So, what’s the best substitute for Cuban bread? The best substitutes for Cuban bread are baguettes, white bread, ciabatta, focaccia, and anadama bread. Any type of bread that has a soft tender texture and a thin crisp crust will work. You can also try and use alternatives with a slightly sweet flavor and similar long shape.
Today, we will be looking at exactly what Cuban bread are so that you can better choose an appropriate substitute.
Then, we will look at the top choices for alternatives and exactly why and when they will work well!
What Is Cuban Bread?
Cuban bread sounds a lot more exotic than it actually is. Odds are, you have even come across a loaf or two without realizing it!
Cuban bread is a type of simple white bread that is surprisingly similar to soft French and Italian loaves of bread.
But, the main difference between them is the preparation method used and some of the ingredients included in the recipe.
This bread often has some form of fat included. This can be either lard or vegetable shortening, like margarine.
The other ingredients used to make this loaf is pretty standard, including bread flour, water, leavening agents (often yeast), and salt.
When it comes to the shaping process used, this dough is shaped into a baguette-like log approximately 3 feet long. It does have a more rectangular shape as compared to baguettes and is much wider.
Characteristics Of Cuban Bread
Other than the unique long rectangular shape this loaf has, it has a pretty tasty crust. Once baked, the crust is quite hard, yet thin. Many people describe it as having a paper-like crust that encloses a soft flake middle.
These loaves of bread also have an open crumb. What this term refers to is the texture inside of the bread. It has lots of open-air pockets and a very soft interior texture.
One thing to be careful of when it comes to these loaves is that authentic recipes don’t include any preservatives. So, this makes the loaves go stale very quickly in comparison to other loaves of bread.
This is part of the reason not many people today stock Cuban bread in their shops, and why so many people are looking for substitutes.
Uses For Cuban Bread
This bread is the staple ingredient in making the world-renowned Cuban sandwich. This sandwich is a unique twist on a classic ham and cheese sandwich.
It uses a combination of ham slices, roasted pork slices, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard sauce, and sometimes salami. All of this is served between two slices of delicious Cuban bread.
Cuban sandwiches are cooked using a plancha, or flat-top griddle (though there are other methods of cooking these incredible sandwiches). If you’re interested in getting a griddle to cook these, we’d recommend this brand!
This bread is also often used toasted and topped with delicious breakfast food items, like eggs and bacon.
Other than that, the bread is also often used as breading for seafood. This is usually once the bread has gone stale due to its short shelf life.
How To Choose A Substitute
When choosing a substitute, regardless of how you plan on using this bread, you will want to look at the three main characteristics of Cuban bread and the potential alternative.
This includes the crust, the crumb, and the flavor. Naturally, you want the closest possible substitute.
You can also take into consideration the shape and size of the alternative. A roti won’t work as a substitute for a large log-shaped slice of bread. So, depending on the use, these are also important factors.
The crust of an original Cuban bread is thin but still relatively hard. This allows each bite to have some texture without the hassle of trying to tear it off. A Cuban bread’s crust isn’t chewy at all.
The internal crumb of this bread is fairly light and airy. However, it doesn’t have air pockets as ciabatta or sourdough has; it’s a bit more like baguettes in that sense.
While the air pockets aren’t very big, they are plentiful, which also gives this loaf a minimally dense texture.
Naturally, the different recipes of this loaf will create different flavor profiles. But, in general, these breads are on the sweeter side of the spectrum.
And, depending on the type of shortening you use, some might also have richer flavors than others.
Size And Shape
A Cuban bread has a very long rectangular shape. So, naturally, other kinds of bread with similar shapes will be a better choice, especially if you are planning on utilizing the loaf’s unique long shape to make Cuban sandwiches.
But, if you just want a slice of bread on an open-faced sandwich, your choices don’t have to be limited to a specific shape or size.
The 9 Best Substitutes For Cuban Bread
Below, we have compiled a list of the best substitutes for Cuban bread, all of which you can easily find in stores or at farmer’s markets. But, you can even try your hand at making some at home!
Well, this one was very obvious seeing as we constantly have been comparing it to baguettes. They are truly the best substitute you can use!
Baguettes also have a thin and crispy crust and a very similar soft airy crumb. And, what makes them even more suited are their shapes.
As you know, baguettes are also long, but definitely thinner than a Cuban bread. So, to use baguettes for sandwiches, you can slice them at a diagonal angle to increase the surface area.
But, you do also get thicker baguettes available, which will make your life easier.
2. White Sandwich loaf
While these loaves don’t necessarily have a similar crust or shape, their internal crumb is nearly a perfect match.
White sandwich loaves have a semi-dense texture that is still soft and airy. The crust however isn’t crispy at all. It’s rather chewy but still thin.
3. Anadama Bread
This bread has New English origin and is extremely similar to Cuban loaves. Now, its strong yeasty smell and flavor aren’t necessarily for everyone, but we still highly recommend it as a substitute when it comes to size and texture.
This bread is made using a combination of bread flour, rye flour, cornmeal, and yeast. And, the addition of molasses gives it a truly unique sweet flavor that pairs well with the toppings of a Cuban sandwich.
These are world-famous Italian flatbreads. They have an even softer texture than a baguette and are almost tender and spongy in texture. But, like white bread, it doesn’t have a crispy crust, rather a chewy one.
Now, traditionally, this bread is seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil, and herbs. But, you can simply leave all of these toppings off and just bake the bread part. Then, use it as an alternative for Cuban bread!
We had to include ciabatta on our list for two reasons. The first is its soft texture and extremely open airy crumb. The second is its large shape, which is perfect for making sandwiches.
These loaves of bread are extremely easy to make at home. And, we absolutely love their crispy crust, even if it is a little bit thicker than that of Cuban loaves.
6. Pan Sobao
Now, this bread may be slightly more difficult to come by, but there are lots of options available online. And, you can always just make it yourself. This is Mexican bread, specifically from Puerto Rico.
It is made from regular ingredients like flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and lard—pretty similar to Cuban loaves.
So, you can expect a very similar flavor and relatively similar texture. It is a lot crunchier than what you maybe need, but you can soften it up with some water.
Many of you may be familiar with Challah and have even tried it before. It potentially is even a staple in your home.
Traditionally, Challah is a Jewish bread used for ceremonies like Passover or Shabbat. But, because of its incredible flavor and texture, it has become somewhat of a mainstream option.
This braided bread has a very soft texture and a very sweet flavor. And, the crumb isn’t hard or crispy at all.
Many people often confuse challah and brioche, but they are very different.
Brioche is an extremely enriched bread and contains high amounts of fat, specifically butter. It gives this loaf a very rich buttery and sweet flavor.
Furthermore, it has a super soft texture and crust similar to that of white bread. So, if you want a crispy crust, you will simply have to toast it a bit to try and crisp it up.
Last but not least, we have Bolillo, which is also a South American bread that is very popular in Central America.
This bread is very similar to a baguette, but it’s much shorter, often only 6 inches long. It also has a cone-shape that some people have compared to a Coney-roll.
These long rolls also have a delicate texture and crunchy crust.
Here’s a movie-inspired recipe for Cuban sandwiches from the folks over at Babish Culinary Universe!
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