Pan de jamón was invented by the bakers in Venezuela. Usually, during the holiday season, they would cook hams and sell it to the public. What they didn't sell they would bake into their bread, and that's how pan de jamón was born, a traditional staple of Venezuelan holidays and Venezuelan cooking.
On Christmas Eve, my family always have pan de jamón, which is a soft bun loaded with ham, bacon, olives, capers, and all sorts of goodies. Pan de jamón is everywhere in Venezuela during the holiday season.
- 1 tsp active dry yeast
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1½ tbsp sugar
- 1½ tbsp (30 ml) melted butter
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1½ tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
- 6 slices smoked ham, sliced into 2.5cm (1 in) pieces (see Note)
- 8 rashers smoked bacon, cooked and cut into 2.5cm (1 in) pieces (see Note)
- 20 pitted green olives, sliced
- 1½ tbsp capers, drained
- ½ cup raisins or sultanas
- 3 egg whites, beaten
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup warm water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Rising time: 1 hour + 45 minutes
1. In a large bowl, stir together yeast and ¼ cup of warm water. Set aside at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to allow yeast to activate.
2. Whisk in salt, sugar, melted butter, and eggs until incorporated.
3. Using your hands or a mixer, slowly integrate bread flour, mixing well between additions, and then knead to form an elastic dough. Form dough into a ball and grease with olive oil. Transfer dough to a large bowl and set aside to rise for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
4, Once dough has risen, transfer dough to a lightly-floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a 35cm x 35cm (14x14-inch) square, about 13mm (½ inch) thick.
5. Sprinkle ham, bacon, olives, capers and raisins evenly over the dough. Starting at one edge, roll into a roll, pressing the edges to seal. Transfer the roll to a parchment-lined baking ray (put the end underneath, so it doesn’t come open when cooking) and cover with a damp towel. Leave to rise at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 180oC/ 350oF. (see Note)
7. Bake bread for 1 hour.
8. Meanwhile, to make a glaze, whisk together egg whites, brown sugar, and the ¼ cup of warm water until sugar dissolves.
9. Remove bread from oven, and brush glaze over the top. Return bread to the oven, and continue baking for 10-15 minutes, until golden.
10. Let bread cool to room temperature before slicing and serve.
• You can cut the ham and bacon into pieces, or use larger slices as Juan Pablo does in The Latin Kitchen – the look will be different, but it will taste equally delicious.
• Juan Pablo puts a baking dish half-full of water on a lower shelf in the oven. The steam will help the bread rise well.