Pan de Jamón (Venezuelan Ham Bread)

Makes two loaves. Recipe is from Dave and Margarita Wetzel, who say this is a traditional Christmas dish in Venezuela.

11/2 cups warm water

1 tbl. sugar

2 (0.25-oz) envelopes dry yeast

2 lbs., 3 ozs. flour, or 71/2 cups

4 tbls. sugar

1 tbl. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

13/4 sticks margarine, softened

2 large eggs

3/4 to 1 lb. sliced ham, turkey ham or luncheon meat

3/4 cup raisins

3/4 cup sliced green pimento olives, drained

1/4 cup capers, drained

1 egg or egg yolk

1. Proof yeast by mixing warm water, sugar and yeast. Let sit for five minutes, until yeast is foamy.

2. Mix the flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Crumble the margarine into the mixture until uniformly dispersed. Add the eggs.

3. Pour in the proofed yeast and mix with hands, then knead for 10 minutes. Return to bowl, cover and let rise to double volume.

4. Punch down the dough and divide in half. Knead to remove the air bubbles, then roll out to a 12-by-18-inch rectangle. The dough should be very elastic.

5. Layer the ham, raisins, olives and capers onto each rectangle of dough.

6. Roll from the 12-inch edge and place loaves on a baking sheet that’s been sprayed with oil. Cover with a towel and let rise to double volume. Brush with egg yolk or whole egg.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.