Brandon baker draws from Cuban heritage for inspiration

Before the sun is up, you'll find Jose Moreno already hard at work.

He's the heart and soul behind the fresh baked goods at his name sake, the Moreno Bakery located in Brandon. 

But this owner-operated bakery is more than just cakes and cookies; it was born out of his Cuban heritage, so a staple of the menu is Cuban bread. 

"We come in in the morning and we start mixing the dough," Moreno explained. 

Not just for a loaf or two either. They mix 150 pounds of dough each morning.

"The recipe, you can find anywhere. It's not a secret anymore," he said.

Moreno is actively involved as the kitchen crew mixes salt, flour, sugar, yeast, vegetable shortening and water.

But there's a special ingredient that helps the process: ice.

"We put 54 pounds of water [in the mix] with 50% ice in the water." Moreno said.

The mix goes into their industrial mixer to begin the blending of ingredients. 

As the mixer is kneading the dough, Moreno will periodically stop it to take its temperature. 

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Remember the ice? Moreno wants the dough to stay cool enough to be pliable and develop the flavor of the bread, but it's not ready to bake until it hits 80 degrees.

As they roll out the loaves of soon to be bread, on each loaf of dough they place a Palmetto leaf as part of their Tampa tradition. 

The loaves are loaded into their preheated oven set to 480 degrees. 

In just 25 minutes, those loaves are ready to serve. 

To get your own loaf of authentic Cuban bread, visit The Moreno Bakery in Brandon at 737 West Brandon Boulevard.

LINK: To learn more about Moreno Bakery, visit their website.