Pan de Jamón (Ham Bread)

“Pan de Jamon is a traditional Venezuelan holiday dish, which is believed to have originated in Caracas around 1905 and created by bakery owner Gustavo Ramella. Ramella was trying to come up with ways to utilize leftover holiday ham, so he rolled it up in dough with raisins and olives and baked it. Today, Pan de Jamon is a staple across holiday tables in Venezuela. No holiday meal is complete without it. Bakeries in Venezuela make it during the holiday season, but you can also bake your own at home. One of the many things I miss about being home for the holidays is buying fresh-baked Pan de Jamon and eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! I try to keep the Pan de Jamon tradition alive with my husband and children and every year for the holidays, we make it from scratch. It’s my way of passing on this delicious part of Venezuelan culture down to my children.” ~ Story by Adrianela, Recipe by Armando Scannone

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Ready in 14 hours (includes rest time) – Makes 3 loaves

To make this recipe you’ll need:

For the dough:

  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1.5 cups milk at room temperature
  • 3 ⅓ cups (1 kg) flour
  • 5 tbsp (75 gr) vegetable shortening
  • 6 tbsp (90 gr) softened butter
  • 1 ¾ tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp (100 gr) sugar
  • 3 eggs at room temperature

For the filling:

  • 36 oz cooked ham finely diced
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • 30 green olives diced

For the egg wash:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp water
  • A pinch of salt

In a bowl mix the yeast, lukewarm water, and the sugar. Cover and let it rest for about 20 minutes. When the mixture starts to get bubbly and doubles in size, add the milk and about 2 cups of the flour. Mix well until everything is incorporated. Cover and let rest in a warm spot for about 4 hours.

Once the dough has doubled in size, add the remainder of the flour and knead it in. If the dough is too dry, add 2 more tablespoons of milk. Continue to knead until everything is incorporated.  Cover and let the dough rest in the fridge for 6- 8 hours or overnight.

After the long rest period, take the dough out of the fridge and put it in your mixer bowl. Add the shortening, butter, salt, eggs and mix these in with the use of the dough hook. Mix until all the ingredients have combined and created a smooth dough, about 7-10 minutes. Place the dough on a clean surface on your counter and “slap and fold”(*) it on the counter until the dough is no longer sticky (this takes anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes).

Split the dough into 3 equal pieces. Split your ham, olives and raisins into 3 equal portions. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a rectangle about ⅓” thick. Distribute one portion of ham, olives and raisins evenly on the dough, leaving about 1 inch border around.  Roll up the dough and tuck in the ends to make sure they are closed. Place the bread roll on the prepared baking sheet and cover. Repeat this process with the remaining 2 portions of dough and filling.

Let the rolls rest for about 2 hours in a warm place.

Heat the oven to 400F. In a bowl, mix the 2 egg yolks, with the 2 tbsp water and pinch of salt. Set aside.

Place one of the loaves in the oven and cook for about 15 minutes. Briefly take it out of the oven and brush with the egg wash and place it back in the oven. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown.  Repeat this process with the other 2 rolls.

(*) Slap and fold is a kneading technique for some breads. Take one end of your dough, lift it up and slap it on the counter, as soon as it hits the counter you fold the end you are holding on to the other end of the dough. At first it will be sticky and messy, but within a few minutes the dough will come together and will stick less and less.

Helpful Tips:

  • You can cut the loaves in half once they are cooked and freeze them in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

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