A Venezuelan Christmas with pan de jamón

pan-de-jamonVenezuelan Christmas Ham Bread Recipe

Yield: 1 loaf

  • 1 1/2c lukewarm milk (can use any milk)
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 c flour, plus more as needed (can use whole wheat if desired, but adjust amount accordingly)
  • 7 T butter, melted (can use olive oil)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c dark raisins
  • 3/4 c light raisins
  • 1/2 lb ham, prosciutto works wonderfully
  • 1 c sliced pimento stuffed olives
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp milk for egg wash

In a large bowl, combine the milk, sugar, and yeast. Stir and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup of the flour and set to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

After one hour is up, whisk in 4 tablespoons of the melted butter, 2 eggs, and the salt. Add 2 cups of flour and mix well. Continue to add the remainder of the flour and mix until you have a soft and sticky dough. Transfer the dough to a well floured workspace and knead until smooth and elastic adding more flour as needed.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a buttered bowl. Roll the dough in the bowl to coat all sides with butter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1-2 hours. *Hate to knead? Mix until the dough is soft and sticky then allow to rise for one hour. After that, pop it in the fridge to rise overnight. The next day, follow the remaining steps.*

While the dough is rising, soak the raisins in hot water and cover until plump (about 15 minutes).

When doubled in bulk, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 14″ x 18″ rectangle. Brush with the remaining butter and layer the ham, raisins, and olives. Starting on the long edge, roll the dough up (like a jelly roll) and place seam side down on a lightly buttered baking sheet. Cover with a clean towel and let rest for 15 minutes while the oven preheats to 350 F. Before placing in the oven, brush the bread with the egg wash. Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cover with a damp kitchen towel for 15 minutes.