In a medium bowl mix shredded cheese and ham. Set aside.
Make the dough:
Wash your hands. In a medium bowl add water, salt, and sugar. Mix until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Mix Harina P.A.N, flour, and baking powder in a bowl. Slowly add dry ingredients to the water and mix/incorporate with your hands, making circular movements and breaking with your finger the lumps that may form. Let rest 5 minutes to thicken. The dough should be firm enough holds its shape without cracking when molded. If it is too soft add a little more of harina P.A.N; if too hard add a little more water.
Form the empanadas:
Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions and form into little balls (golf ball size).
Flatten each ball between two sheets of plastic until it is approximately 5 inches (see notes). Put a heaping spoon of filling in the center of the empanada. Using the plastic sheet, carefully fold over the dough into a semicircle. Trim into a half-moon shape with a knife, or press down with the round edge of a bowl.
Fry the empanadas:
Heat 2 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350º F. Fry the empanadas in batches until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet; keep warm in the oven at 300º F.
SUGAR: the sugar is totally optional. I like a touch of sweetness in my empanadas but some people don't so adjust to your liking.To flatten the dough many people use a tortilla press, which they say it's pretty convenient, but I don't have one so I do it with my hands or with a cutting board, and it works perfectly. Looking for more Venezuelan recipes?