Cuban bread

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Cuban bread
Cuban sandwiches.jpg
Cuban bread is used to make Cuban sandwiches
Type White bread
Place of origin United States
Region or state Florida
Creator La Joven Francesca Bakery
Main ingredients Flour, water, lard or vegetable shortening
Cookbook: Cuban bread  Media: Cuban bread

Cuban bread is a fairly simple white bread, similar to French bread and Italian bread, but has a slightly different baking method and ingredient list (in particular, it generally includes a small amount of fat in the form of lard or vegetable shortening); it is usually made in long, baguette-like loaves. It is a staple of Cuban-American cuisine and is traditionally the bread of choice when making an authentic Cuban sandwich.


Old Ferlita (La Joven Francesca) Bakery, now Ybor City Museum State Park in Tampa's Ybor City

The origins of "real" Cuban bread are debated, with both Miami and Tampa, Florida claiming to be the home of the best. With regards to where it originated, the earliest U.S. bakery to produce Cuban bread was most likely La Joven Francesca bakery,[1] which was established by the Sicilian-born Francisco Ferlita in 1896 in Ybor City, a thriving Cuban-Spanish-Italian community in Tampa. The bakery originally sold bread for 3 to 5 cents per loaf, many of which were delivered every morning like milk. Houses in Ybor City often had a sturdy nail driven into the door frame on the front porch, and a bread deliveryman would impale the fresh loaf of bread onto the nail before dawn.[2][3]

Ferlita's bakery was destroyed by fire in 1922, leaving only the brick bread oven standing. He rebuilt it even larger than before and added a second oven, and it soon became a major supplier of Cuban bread for the Tampa/Ybor area. The bakery also added a dining area which became a place to congregate, drink a cup of Cuban coffee, and catch up on the local news.[4] La Joven Francesca closed in 1973, but soon found new life when it was renovated and converted into the Ybor City State Museum, becoming the main part of the museum complex.[3] The original ovens where the original Cuban bread was baked are still viewable inside.[5]

La Segunda Bakery is currently the largest producer of Cuban bread in the Tampa area.[6] It was co-founded by Juan Morè, who migrated to Tampa from Spain via Cuba and became a partner in a bakery co-op with three locations: "La Primera", "La Segunda", and "La Tercera" (literally, First, Second, and Third). Morè had been running La Primera, but when the other two bakeries closed in 1915, he bought the larger La Segunda building. His descendants have been running the bakery ever since, and it still uses Morè's original Cuban bread recipe and many of the same bread-making techniques.[7][8]


Simulated Cuban bread in traditional brick oven, Ybor City State Museum, Tampa

It is not amiss to say that the Latins in Ybor City make a very fine bread, equal in all respects to the French article of that kind and unexcelled by the Vienna product.

-Tampa Daily Journal, 1896 [9]

A traditional loaf of Cuban bread is approximately three feet long and somewhat rectangular crossways (as compared to the rounder shape of Italian or French bread loaves). It has a hard, thin, almost papery toasted crust and a soft flaky center .[10] In the early days, the dough was stretched thin to make it last, creating the bread's distinctive air pockets and long shape. As they have for decades, La Segunda and other traditional Cuban bread makers lay a long, moist palmetto frond on top of the loaves before baking, creating a shallow trench in the upper crust, producing an effect similar to the slashing of a European-style loaf. (The frond is removed before eating.)

Cuban bread is the necessary base for a 'Cuban sandwich' (sometimes called a "sandwich mixto").[11][12][13] It can also be served as a simple breakfast, especially toasted and pressed with butter and served alongside (and perhaps dunked into) a hot mug of cafe con leche (strong dark-roasted Cuban coffee with scalded milk).

Because the traditional recipe uses no preservatives, Cuban bread tends to go stale quickly and should be eaten soon after baking before it becomes hard and dry. It can be frozen for shipping or storage.[14] In Tampa, stale Cuban bread became an ingredient in other recipes, such as the breading of a deviled crab.[15]

Other uses[edit]

Stale Cuban bread is the preferred "weapon of choice" in protests performed by the Conch Republic and in mock battles involving the "Ybor City Navy" during Tampa's Gasparilla Pirate Festival.[16][17]


  1. ^ "That Cuban beat presses on". Herald Tribune. 2009-10-21. Retrieved 2010-09-03. 
  2. ^ Otto, Steve (24 October 2007). "Cuban Is Ours, Any Way You Try To Slice It". The Tampa Tribune. Archived from the original on 7 May 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Historical Marker". Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  4. ^ "Citytimes: For 65 years, he brought Cuban bread all over town". Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  5. ^ "Museum | Ybor City Museum". Archived from the original on December 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  6. ^ Morales, Ileana (7 January 2011). "Machines lend a hand to Cuban bread bakers at Tampa's La Segunda". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  7. ^ Helen Anne Travis. "Business still booms at Cuban bread's birthplace: 100-year-old Florida bakery". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 March 2016. 
  8. ^ "Carlton: 100 years of Cuban bread at Ybor City's La Segunda Central Bakery". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 13 March 2016. 
  9. ^ Ingalls, Roberts and Louis Perez, Jr. Tampa Cigar Workers. 2003. University Press of Florida, p. 49.
  10. ^ "Cuban Bread: A History". Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  11. ^ Linda Stradley. "Cuban Sandwich, History of Cuban Sandwich, History of Cubano Sandwich". Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  12. ^ "Floridian: The search for the perfect Cuban sandwich". Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  13. ^ "Cuban Sandwich | Tampa Bay's Cigar City Magazine". Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  14. ^ "La Segunda Central Bakery, fresh as ever". Creative Loafing Tampa. Retrieved 13 March 2016. 
  15. ^ "Bitter Strikes Brought Deviled Crabs". Cigar City Magazine. Retrieved 13 March 2016. 
  16. ^ "History of the Conch Republic". Conch Republic Military Forces. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  17. ^ "Cuban bread flies during 59th Ybor Naval Invasion". The Tampa Tribune/ 18 January 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2016. 

External links[edit]