“Pan de Jamón” is a traditional Christmas bread from my home country, Venezuela. It’s filled with what I consider the flavors of Christmas, and I wanted to share it with all of you.
If this is the first time you’ve heard of this bread, try to make it for a new and different international Christmas experience! It would be a delicious addition to your Christmas dinner.
Merry Christmas everybody!
Pan de jamón (Venezuelan Christmas bread)
3 tablespoons yeast, either dry or paste (45 grams)
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 pound of flour (1/2 kilo or 4 cups)
3 tablespoons of sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup warm milk (8 tablespoons)
A handful of flour, to flour the table/counter/kneading area
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 pound sliced ham (or turkey)
10 1/2 ounces of bacon (300grams)
3 1/2 ounces of olives (100grams) cut in halves.
3/4 cup raisins
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon of sugar
Place yeast, warm water and teaspoon of sugar in a small container. Lightly stir and cover, letting it sit in a place with no airflow for about 30 minutes.
Pour the yeast mixture in a mixer bowl, add the butter and egg, and slowly mix the liquids with the flour, until the consistency is smooth and not very sticky.
Make the dough into a ball and place in a wide floured container, cover it with a towel and let it rest in a place without drafts for 2-3 hours - I leave it inside an unheated oven. During this process, the dough will double its size, so it is important to place it in a sufficiently large container so it will have space to expand.
After the rest time has lapsed, the dough should have doubled in size. Place dough on a floured surface and knead with your hands for about a minute. Using a floured roller, push and extend the dough using the weight of your body to create a rectangle, approx. 12x20 inches, with a uniform thickness of 1/4 inch. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Spread the ham on top of the dough, and place the olives and bacon in perpendicular lines next to the shorter sides of the rectangle - I like to place it in strips - that way I ensure that all the pieces of bread will have some bacon and olives.
Spread the raisins all over the surface and roll from one end of the rectangle, tightly rolling into a large “Swiss Roll”-like, or “Gypsy Arm” log. Once completely rolled, seal the edge with a little water and flour. Do the same with the ends and any other opening there may be.
Carefully place the bread, with ends closed and sealed, in a greased and floured tray, or covered with baking paper (parchment paper).
With a fork, carefully make small perforations around the bread and some on the top. This will help that during the baking of the bread, so it does not lose its shape and allows air ventilation.
Cover bread with a towel. Let it rest in a place without drafts for 3 to 4 hours.
After the resting time. The bread will have increased in size. Remove the bread from the oven. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
Once the oven has reached the desired temperature, place the pan with the bread for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, lightly beat egg yolk and sugar.
After 20 minutes of baking, remove the tray from the oven. Brush the entire surface of the bread with the mixture of the egg wash. Once the surface is covered with the egg wash, put the bread back in the oven for 5 more minutes.
Remove bread from oven. Insert a toothpick or knife on one side to ensure it is cooked thoroughly - if the toothpick comes out clean, the bread is ready.
Let cool slightly before serving. Bon Appetit!