the appetizer:

The New Southern-Latino Table, Recipes That Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America and the American South by Sandra A. Gutierrez includes recipes like Green Mango Salad with Pepita and Benne-Dusted Shrimp; Albóndigas with Sweet Fire-Roasted Tomato Chutney; and Rolled Ham Salad Cake (Pionono).

Cookbook Profile

Rolled Ham Salad Cake (Pionono)

Serves 8

Rolled Ham Salad Cake (Pionono)


Savory and sweet flavors join successfully in this dainty spiral cake, perfectly suited for an afternoon tea or ladies' luncheon. Both Southerners and Latinos often combine sweet and salty flavors (perfect examples are bacon with brown sugar or molasses glazed ham). Unassuming and elegant at the same time, jelly rolls and rolled cakes are extremely popular throughout Latin America. Sweet versions are known as brazos gitanos (gypsies' arms) and savory versions are called piononos. My spin on the traditional pionono features a quintessentially Southern filling and is reminiscent of the savory cakes found in Argentina, Bolivia, and Uruguay. These delectable cakes—the original sandwich wraps—are usually filled with cold cuts, sliced cheese, olives, hard-boiled eggs, and roasted vegetables. Piononos—so called after Pope Pius IX, who is said to have loved them—are usually served as a heavy snack or light lunch.

For the Cake

For the Ham Salad

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 15-1/2 x 10-1/2 x 1-inch jelly roll pan (or baking sheet) with parchment paper; butter the paper and set aside. Sift the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder into a large bowl; set aside. Using an electric mixer or a whisk, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Beat in 4 tablespoons of the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute. In another large bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick, about 1-1/2 minutes; beat in the water. Continue beating until the yolks are pale yellow and thick, about 2-3 minutes. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar until the yolks thicken and form ribbons when the beater or whisk is lifted or they're dropped from a spoon, about 1 minute. Gently stir 1/4 of the whites into the yolks; fold in the rest of the whites. Carefully, fold the flour mixture into the eggs, being careful not to deflate them. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Tap the pan lightly on a hard surface to remove air bubbles. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Lay a clean, damp towel on the counter; sprinkle liberally with confectioners' sugar. Quickly turn the cake upside down over the towel and remove the pan carefully; peel off the parchment paper (if it sticks, dampen the paper with a wet basting brush). Starting from the long side, roll the warm cake in the towel. Let it cool completely.

In the meantime, make the ham salad. In a large bowl, combine the ham, mayonnaise, celery, onions, cilantro, parsley, and mustard; season with salt and pepper. Unroll the cake and spread the ham salad evenly over the top and roll it back up again. Trim the edges and transfer it to a platter. The cake may be filled and rolled up to 3 hours before serving. Serve well chilled.


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This page created January 2012