Cuban Bread

2 round white loaves

5 to 6 cups flour
2 packages dry yeast
1 Tablespoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 cups hot water (120º-130ºF)
Sesame or Poppy seeds (optional)

Mix 4 cups flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir until well blended. Pour in the hot water and stir for a minute or two.

Gradually work in the remaining flour (using fingers if necessary), 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough takes shape and isn't sticky goo anymore.

Now it's time to KNEAD!! YAY!

Sprinkle the work surface with flour. Work in the flour as you knead the dough, keeping a dusting of flour between the dough and the work surface at all times.

Knead until the dough is smooth, elastic, and feels alive under your hands.

Time for rising! Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put in a warm place** (80º-100ºF) until dough doubles in size.

**Hint: I put the oven on its warm setting for a few minutes, then I turn it off and just stick the bowl (I use a glass bowl) in the oven. The dough will be in a warm place, but will not bake because the oven isn't on. It's a great trick.

Take dough out, and PUNCH it down, then rip it into two equal pieces! Who knew that making bread could be so violent!

Shape each dough blob into a nice and happy sphere, put them on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal (or grease it if you like), then with a sharp knife or razor, slash an X on the top of the loaves. Brush with water, and sprinkle with Sesame or Poppy seeds if you like.

Place the baking sheet in the middle of a cold oven. Place a pan of hot water on the shelf below the baking sheet, and heat the oven to 400ºF. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until the bread is a deep golden brown. Let the loaves cool off before slicing.

Since this bread has no shortening, it may stale more quickly than other breads, but it makes EXCELLENT toast for days.

Play with the baking time and temperature, as this can make the bread turn out differently. It's an easy homemade bread recipe from the kitchen of datagirl.

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