The Florida bakery stays true to the traditions of handcrafted Cuban bread

TAMPA, Fla. – “We have to fight the weather outside,” says Bryant Valdez, master baker at La Segunda Bakery in Tampa, Fla

He talks to locals about the intricacies of baking Cuban bread and how to adjust the batter mixes each day to suit the weather outside. For example, when the air is humid they add less water and when the air is dry they add more. This, coupled with the temperature at which they mix the batter, is what makes the art of baking Cuban bread so different from other ways.

The La Segunda bakery has been family-owned since 1915. Fourth-generation owner Copeland More explains that his great-grandfather, Juan More, brought the recipe for traditional Cuban bread after fighting in Spain’s Ybor province. American War in Cuba.

Although originally from Spain, Juan More fell in love with the taste of authentic Cuban bread, and La Segunda Bakery remains true to the hand-baked process more than 100 years later.

There’s no denying that staying true to tradition makes a crucial difference: La Segunda supplies about 80% of the country with Cuban bread. However, baking fresh bread every day is no small feat. With nearly 30 bakers, most of whom have been in the bakery for an average of 20 years, around 18,000 loaves of bread are made daily. And in order to continue the craft, they train new bakers directly on site.

“Most of the time, the ovens never stop spinning,” Copeland said.

Valdez, the master baker, is enthusiastic about his craft.

“I’m really going into it; I’m bringing it from the heart,” Valdez said. “That’s what brought me here, was the joy and fun of making Cuban bread.”

You’ll know it’s authentic Cuban bread by the fresh palmetto leaf scored in the center of the loaf. This is their most important time-honored custom, and La Segunda is one of the few bakeries that still upholds this labor-intensive tradition. The palmetto leaf is a crucial part of the baking process to bring out the texture of the bread.

This unique combination of master bakers, quality ingredients, and a passionate adherence to heritage is why the bakery continues to make this coveted Cuban bread.

“A lot of people come for the Cuban sandwich and then come back and try it, you know, we have over a hundred different types of pastries and offerings,” says More.

Staying true to Ybor City’s cultural beginnings, the bakery offers a variety of Italian biscuits, German chocolate cake, flan, guava fritters, and other items added by their pastry chefs.

More prides itself on the fact that its customers feel a sense of community when they come into the bakery.

“Ybor City is extremely important to us,” More said. “We feel we owe the community quality bread every day.” The Florida bakery stays true to the traditions of handcrafted Cuban bread

Dais Johnston

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