A staple in Cuban families, Cuban bread quickly found its place in all the Florida communities in which it was introduced by Cuban emigres, especially in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood in the mid 1800’s and later in Miami and South Florida with the massive wave of exiles starting in the 1960’s. In the aforementioned areas, Cuban bread is consumed in a variety of ways. One of the most popular ways to have this white bread is for breakfast.
A typical morning meal includes Cuban bread with butter accompanied by a cup of Cafe con Leche. The baking method for Cuban bread includes a small amount of fat in the form of lard or vegetable shortening and it is typically made in a long loaf. They are popular items in Cuban cafeterias throughout Florida and are usually served complimentarily in restaurants before main dishes. The origins of Cuban bread are debatable. As is common, Miami and Tampa (both cities with a significant number of Cubans) claim their role as creators. What can be proven, however, is that the first commercial bakery in the United States to produce Cuban bread in large numbers was La Joven Francesca bakery in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood.
The bakery was established by Sicilian-born Francisco Ferlita in 1896 and catered to the cities’ diverse population which included Cubans, Italians, Spaniards, Romanians, African-Americans and others. The loaves of Cuban bread were popular items during morning deliveries, along with milk. Homes in Ybor City even had nails on front porch doors where bread deliverymen would hang fresh loaves of bread for customers.