Tampa bakery having trouble finding bakers who know how to make Cuban bread

Imagine life without real Cuban bread…

I shudder to think of having to endure such misery.

Via the Tampa Bay Times:

Ybor institution struggles to find people who can bake Cuban bread like it’s 1915

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The brick and mortar part was easy. This summer, the 103-year-old La Segunda Bakery — the world’s largest producer of Cuban bread — will open a new store on W Kennedy Boulevard.

The hard part is finding people who can make Cuban bread the way it was done in 1915.

“No one seems to be able to do the old way today,” said La Segunda co-owner Tony More, whose Spanish immigrant grandfather founded the Ybor City bakery after arriving here more than a century ago.

The “old way’’ isn’t easy.

It begins with the dough, which is kneaded for 15 minutes and then hand-rolled into loaves that are 3 feet long. Next come the palm leaf strips, which must be pressed just so into the top. That creates the seam that has become the La Segunda signature.

This is how Tampa’s first wave of Cuban and Spanish immigrants made their Cuban bread, but it is a tradition only a few bakeries still honor.

So finding employees capable of joining the Cuban bread team at La Segunda’s second location has been difficult, More said.

At least half of the 29-person bread staff at its bakery at 2512 N 15th St. comes from families with long traditions of making Latin delicacies the old-fashioned way. Many have been baking that way since they were kids.

“But we’re tapped-out on family connections,” said Copeland More, 37, who co-owns the bakery with his father, Tony. And culinary schools, he noted, don’t train bakers in the ways of palmetto leaves.

After more than a month of searching, the More family has found just five people it thinks have the stuff to become bakers at the new location, 4001 W Kennedy Blvd.

They are now immersed in a four-week training period that teaches all of the traditional techniques. But they may not all make it. The typical graduation rate for apprentice bakers at La Segunda is about 20 percent, said plant manager Dave Dumas.

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1 thought on “Tampa bakery having trouble finding bakers who know how to make Cuban bread”

  1. Well, I’ve certainly had some shamefully lousy “Cuban” bread in Miami, which might as well have been artificial. In my opinion, an establishment that purports to serve Cuban food is discredited by serving such bogus bread, either because they should know better or should care more.

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