- Prep time: 40min + proofing time and ham chilling time
- Cook time: 1h 40min
- Total time: 2h 20min
- Difficulty: Intermediate
Ham baked in bread dough is a traditional Croatian delicacy. Along with Pinca and Easter eggs, it is the focal point of the family Easter breakfast. Bread dough is typically made with only all-purpose flour, but I like to add whole wheat flour to give it a more rustic appearance and flavor. Before wrapping the ham in bread dough and baking it in the oven, it must be cooked and cooled. Cook the ham the night before and then proceed with the recipe the next morning.
- 1-1.5 kg boneless smoked ham
- 20 grams fresh yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 400 grams all-purpose flour
- 100 grams whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 300-350 ml warm water
Half-fill a pot with water and add the ham. Bring to a boil before lowering to a low heat for 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and place in the water to cool overnight. The next morning, drain the ham and discard the skin and fat. For the bread, proof the yeast with a teaspoon of sugar and some warm water. Allow it to foam up for a few minutes in a warm place.
Meanwhile, using a wooden spoon, combine the flours and salt in a mixing bowl. Combine the yeast mixture and the flour. Using an electric mixer (paddle attachments), mix until a dough forms that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You may need a little more or less water depending on the quality of the flour. If the dough is firm but sticky, don’t worry.
Place the bowl in a warm place, covered with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen cloth, to rise until it doubles in volume. (30-45 minutes). After kneading the dough lightly for a minute or two on a floured surface, return it to the bowl. Allow to rise until it has doubled in volume, then cover with plastic and a cloth. Repeat this procedure two more times.
After the dough has risen three times, you can shape it. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 2cm thick rectangle. Place the ham in the center and seal the dough around it. If necessary, brush some water on the dough to help it stick together and pinch it with your fingers to help it seal. Place seam side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a cloth, and set aside for 30-40 minutes to rise.
Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius. To create steam, sprinkle some water over the oven just before putting the bread in. Close the oven door and place the bread inside right away. Sprinkle more water into the oven every 15 minutes to create extra steam while baking. Steam prevents the crust from becoming thick and chewy. 1 hour in the oven, or until the crust is golden brown.
Wrap the warm bread in a damp cloth and place it in the refrigerator to cool completely. Wrapping the bread in a cloth and placing it in a plastic bag will keep it fresh for a few days.
One of the things I look forward to every Easter is the ham. Don’t get me wrong: I love colorful Easter eggs, Pinca, spring onions, radishes, and all the other Easter treats, but my favorite is ham. We’re not talking about your average ham here. Oh, no. Croatian Easter ham is truly outstanding.
The ham is cooked and cooled in the cooking water overnight to keep it juicy. The ham is then wrapped in a rustic homemade bread dough and baked until golden brown and the ham is cooked through. The crust is thin and crispy, and the bread flavor is incredible. The dough absorbs some of the ham juices during baking, becoming soft and beautiful. Then there’s the ham… Oh, it’s the most juicy, succulent piece of meat you’ve ever had.