Christmas Ham Bread
The Pan de Jamón (ham bread) is primarily a Christmas delicacy, exclusive to Venezuela. However, now with so many Venezuelans living abroad, it is eaten in many places around the world.
Sustainable Pan de Jamón
Being true to my intention to share indulgent, South-American flavours with people in Surrey and beyond, we’ll be bringing this delicacy to Ripley, Walton, Kew and Cobham farmer's markets as well as our online store during November and December, yet with a different and sustainable twist.
Every ham bread comes wrapped in a reusable beeswax wrap, handmade in the UK using organic GOTS certified cotton, pine resin, organic Jojoba Oil and UK Beeswax.
What's more, they're reusable and biodegradable!
Whilst enjoying this delicacy and reducing packaging sent to the landfill, you’ll have a sustainable and eco-friendly wrapper to use during the festive season and well into 2019!
What is a “Pan de Jamón"?
It is a special bread filled with ham, olives and raisins prepared mostly for the Christmas season. Although the bread can be found in some local bakeries all year round, the bread is mostly available between October and December every year, being the key feature product in the bakeries.
The Pan de Jamón is THE best accompaniment to the typical Venezuelan Christmas dish (hallacas) and without it, the dish is nowhere near complete.
What’s the story behind the Pan de Jamón?
After many years researching and documenting its origins, Miro Popić, a Venezuelan journalist and columnist specialising in gastronomy, wrote a book called “El Pan de Jamón” over 30 years ago.
He concludes that the ham bread was a recent creation, appearing for the first time in a bakery in Caracas at the beginning of the 20th century.
Little by little, it transformed into a Christmas tradition to the point of becoming an indispensable item every Christmas.
It is a distinctive dish that characterises the Venezuelan gastronomic cultural heritage.
It was created in 1905 in the “Ramella” bakery in the Gradillas corner in Caracas and initially contained only ham. It was made with smoked gammon leftovers that were originally soaked in wine, cloves, pineapple, cinnamon and sugar cane.
The competition followed closely, imitating and enhancing the recipe by adding other ingredients: olives, raisins and in some cases bacon.
Initially the bread was made with “Ferry” leg ham cut in 1cm squares - according to one of the weighers of that time, the Pan de Jamón costing 1 bolivar (Venezuelan currency at that time) contained 30 grams of ham and 5 grams of raisins, whilst the 2 bolivares bread had double that content and 4 times its content for the 4 bolivars one.
Different to most new product development, the Pan de Jamón was created for mass production from the outset, as opposed to being born in the home kitchen and then moved to open kitchens and restaurants.
Therefore, the dough and filling weren’t the same as homemade, it was very industrial with less flavour and no artisan touch.
Most of the population had a humble diet but it was only in December when they delighted themselves by eating something as delicious as the Pan de Jamón and hallacas.
On Christmas eve between 4pm and 7pm, the bakeries were filled with people looking for Pan de Jamón so they could bring it home fresh from the oven ready for the Christmas dinner.
What is the Pan de Jamón made of?
The original recipe for the Pan de Jamón consisted of only ham. It then evolved as other bakeries started copying the product by adding olives, raisins and bacon.
Even some bakeries have been using sliced turkey instead of ham, quite suitable for those following a kosher diet or due to religious reasons.
Other versions are made with puff pastry due to its buttery consistency or just as a vegetarian option.
More adventurous versions contain smoked salmon or cream cheese. Those, in my opinion, are insults to this great recipe!
Thanks to its recipe publication in magazines and newspapers during the eighties, the Pan de Jamón started being made at home.
Yet, not many families are used to preparing it - with the exception of those from the centre of the country - as it is easier (and the taste is guaranteed) to buy it from the corner bakery.
They are usually packed in a brown paper bag if bought from a bakery or wrapped in foil if made at home.
But from now on, at the farmers' markets and our online shop, they will be available wrapped in beeswax wraps for a sustainable and eco-friendly way to celebrate the festive season and beyond.
Visit our collections to order yours for the festive season!