Bread of the Dead: Pan De Muertos

Skull & Crossbones: Day of the Dead Bread

On November 1st and 2nd of every year, Mexican and Latin Americans pray for loved ones who have passed away.  On these days they make Pan de Muertos (Day of the Dead Bread).

Some use anise seeds and orange zest when they make their Bread of the Dead.  We decided the cinnamon version sounded much more appealing.  In the end, I did add an orange-sugar glaze to the top, which turned out very well.

Recipe after the jump. . . .

Bread Ingredients:
1  package active dry yeast
1/3  cup  milk
1/3  cup butter
1/2  cup  sugar
1/2  teaspoon  salt
3  large eggs
1  tablespoon  vanilla
About 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
3/4  teaspoon  ground cinnamon

Orange-Sugar Glaze:
1/2 cup sugar
Zest from 1 Orange
1 egg

Put 1 package of active dry yeast in 1/4-cup warm water (100-110F).  Let it soak for 5 minutes.

Heat milk, butter, and sugar to 100-110F in a saucepan on the stove.  Add this mixture to the yeast and water.  Beat three eggs and add to the mixture along with the salt, vanilla, 2 1/4 cups flour, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Stir and add this to your mixer the hook attachment.  Mix this, then add about 1 cup more flour and keep mixing.  Then add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.

Form the dough into a round ball and knead for 10 minutes on a floured surface.

Place the dough in a bowl with an airtight cover and let rise in a dark, dry, and warm area for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Punch down the dough and knead a few more times to release any air bubbles.  Place the ball on an oiled cookie sheet with plastic wrap over top of it for another 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Pull three small dough balls from the larger dough.  Shape them into crossbones and a skull.  Place these on top of the 7” round dough ball on the cookie sheet.  Gently brush some plain egg mixture on top of the dough.

Create the Orange-Sugar Glaze

Use a microplane or a grater to create the orange zest.  Beat the egg.  Combine the orange zest, sugar, and beaten egg in a small bowl.  Mix well and place in the refrigerator until needed.

Bake for a total of 35-40 minutes.  After 20 minutes brush the orange-sugar glaze on top of the bread and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy it while it is warm!  French toast with this would be excellent too.

Shaped Skull & Crossbones Bread Variations:
http://www.chow.com/tags/mexico/gallery
http://lcmrschool.org/HS/mbadger/Receta4.jpg
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/30/57746603_56553d9984.jpg?v=0
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3059/3012590488_1c6a4c690f.jpg?v=0
http://baterya.com/wp-content/gallery/different-bread/aaanoname.jpg
http://www.hispanic-culture-online.com/images/day-of-the-dead-bread.jpg

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