Pan de Muerto Recipe (Bread of the Dead)

From the Librarian Files

This recipe is for the traditional bread used in Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) holiday celebrations.

½ cup butter
½ cup milk
½ cup water
5 cups of flour
2 packages dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon whole anise seed
½ cup sugar
4 eggs

Heat the butter, milk and water in a saucepan over medium flame until very warm but not boiling. Meanwhile measure out 1 ½ cups flour and set the rest aside. In a large mixing bowl combine the 1 ½ cups flour, yeast, salt and anise seed and sugar. Beat in the warm liquid until well combined. Add the eggs and beat in another 1 cup of flour. Continue adding more flour until the dough is soft but not sticky. Knead on lightly floured board for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Lightly grease a bowl and place dough in it, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 ½ hours. Punch the dough down and shape into loaves resembling skulls, skeletons or round loaves with “bones” placed ornamentally on the top. Let these loaves rise for 1 hour.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and paint on glaze.

For glaze, you’ll need:
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons grated orange zest.

Bring this mixture to a boil for two minutes, and then apply to bread with a pastry brush. If desired, sprinkle on colored sugar while glaze is still damp.

“Pan de Muerto recipe.” Tucson Citizen. October 27, 2004. Page E1.