Cuban Bread

Cuban Bread

3/4 teaspoon yeast
1/3 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
1/3 cup bread flour

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
3 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3 teaspoons salt
5 cups bread flour

Prepare the starter. In a small mixing bowl dissolve the yeast in
the water and allow to proof for 10 minutes. Stir in the flour.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 24 hours.

Make the dough. In a large mixing bowl combine the yeast and 1/2
cup water and allow to proof for 10 minutes. Stir in the shortening,
remaining water and half of the starter. Mix well. Stir in the salt
and flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away
from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out to a lightly floured
surface and knead until smooth, about 6 - 8 minutes. Place in a
lightly oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45
minutes.

Punch down dough. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece
into a 14 inch long loaf. Place two loaves on a baking sheet 6
inches apart, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1
hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lay a dampened piece of 3/8" thick kitchen string or twine on top
of each loaf, lengthwise. Bake for 30 minutes, or until loaves
sound hollow when tapped. Place on wire racks, cool slightly then
remove strings. Allow to cool completely.