Cuban Bread

makes 1 large loaf

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) lard

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup warm water

24-inch strip of pre-soaked kitchen twine

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the flour, gluten, yeast, lard, sugar, salt and water until a soft dough forms.  Knead for 5-7 minutes or until smooth.  Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently press to degas the dough.  Press and roll the dough into a long, flat baguette.  Transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400º F.  Place the pre-soaked kitchen twine on top of the dough in a long figure 8 pattern and gently brush with the egg wash.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Carefully remove the twine from the top of the bread.  Transfer the bread to a rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

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