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Whole Ham Baked in Rye Bread Dough

Andrew Chase
Whole bone-in ham baked encased in bread dough is a tradition in Russia, and in Germany and other parts of northern Europe. The dough seals in the juices and adds flavour to the ham, and the bread, although not particularly attractive after it’s peeled off the ham, is a tasty treat. The bread is started the day before for convenience and best flavour. It’s an easy dough to put together in a stand mixer; if you don’t have one, start the first mixing with the bread flour using an electric hand mixer and beat it for 5 minutes, then knead the dough by hand for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve the ham with mustard.


  • Rye Bread Dough:
  • 1 tbsp  (15 mL)  active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup  (60 mL)  molasses or dark malt syrup
  • 3 tbsp  (45 mL)  liquid honey
  • 3 cups  (750 mL)  bread or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp  (15 mL)  caraway seeds
  • 1 tbsp  (15 mL)  ground coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp  (10 mL)  salt
  • 1 tsp  (5 mL)  ground cardamom (optional)
  • 3-1/2 cups  (875 mL)  (approx) whole (dark) rye flour
  • Ham:
  • 1 bone-in ham (10 to 12 lb/4.5 to 5.4 kg)
  • 3/4 tsp  (4 mL)  black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp  (1 mL)  ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp  (1 mL)  ground allspice


Rye Bread Dough: One day before baking ham, sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup/60 mL warm water; let stand until foamy.

Meanwhile, warm together molasses, honey and 1-3/4 cups/425 mL water, stirring until blended; let cool to at least 110°F/44°C.

Place bread flour, caraway seeds, coriander, salt, and cardamom (if using) in bowl of stand mixer; with paddle attachment, beat at slow speed until thoroughly mixed. Pour in yeast and molasses mixtures; mix on low speed until blended, then beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Remove paddle and add hook attachment; on low speed, gradually mix in enough rye flour until in sticky dough that holds together.

Knead on medium-low speed, adding more rye flour if necessary, until dough is no longer sticky, about 6 minutes (you should be able to slap palm against dough and hold for 5 seconds without it sticking).

Knead few turns by hand and form into ball; place in oiled bowl, turning to coat all over. Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours; punch down dough, knead lightly and form into ball. Return to bowl and wrap with plastic, forming airtight seal; refrigerate overnight or for up to 24 hours.

Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand until at room temperature, 1 to 2 hours.

Trim off and discard skin from ham, leaving thin layer of fat. Mix together pepper, cloves and allspice; sprinkle all over ham.

On lightly floured surface, roll out dough into rectangle large enough to entirely wrap ham and scant 1/2-inch/1 cm thick; transfer to rimmed baking sheet.

Lay ham, fat side up, on dough; wrap dough over ham, then moisten edges with water and press together to seal, attractively crimping edges. With scissors, cut two X-shaped vents in dough.

Cover with foil and roast in 325°F/160°C oven until dough is well-browned, about 90 minutes; remove foil and continue roasting until ham is heated through and thermometer inserted in centre registers 135°F/60°C, about 3 hours total.

Remove from oven; let stand for 20 minutes. Break off dough; slice ham thinly.

Makes 15 to 20 servings.

If dealing with a food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity or special dietary needs for a medical condition, always check the label of processed foods (including spices and condiments) to ensure that they’re free of potentially harmful ingredients. If you have any doubt about a product’s ingredients, contact the manufacturer.