What Is a Pebete?
Pebete is a type of Argentinean sandwich, similar to the American BLT. In fact, the term pebete is commonly assumed to stand for PBT — bread, or pan in Spanish, bacon, and tomato. The term, however, refers to the spongy but crusty bread, not the sandwich ingredients.
Since pebete is a yeast bread, yeast is required. Usually, a fast- or quick-rising yeast is used, as opposed to the active dry yeast often used in bread making. Flour, sugar, salt, and butter are also included. Some recipes may mix sourdough into the dough as well. Originating in San Francisco, sourdough is created with flour, milk, yeast and water, just as normal yeast bread is. The yeast, used, however, is local wild yeast that imparts a more sour flavor to the bread than the commercially manufactured variety.
To make pebete bread, the yeast is first dissolved in warm milk. Afterward, the other ingredients are mixed in, and the dough is allowed to rest for a short time while it rises. The dough should have a consistency similar to pizza dough. If sourdough is used as well, it is made separately and placed into the dough mixture with the rest of the ingredients. Sourdough does not use quick rising yeast, however, so it will take much longer to rise.
After the pebete dough rises, it is cut and rolled into roughly circular shapes, which are pulled into puffy ovals. The ovals are then placed on a baking sheet and allowed to rise again. Once the second rising is complete, the buns are usually brushed with eggs before being placed in the oven to cook. Completed pebete bread will have a crusty, brown exterior and a spongy, soft interior.
Some recipes do not suggest brushing the top of the buns with egg before cooking. Instead, they advise combining cornstarch or cornmeal with water to make a thin paste which can be brushed over the bread either before or after cooking. This is sometimes termed "painting" the bread.
Pebete bread can be made by hand or in a bread maker. In Argentina, it is commonly found in bakeries. Although it can be eaten alone, only pebete bread is used to make pebete sandwiches.
When used for sandwiches, the buns are sliced lengthwise. Traditionally, there are four ingredients to a pebete: cheese, tomato, mayonnaise, and usually bacon or ham. The meat is variable, and its only requirement is that it be a type of cured meat.
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