Friday, November 1, 2013

Pan de Muerto

Yes, that translates to bread of the dead.  And, the term may seem a bit odd for those not familiar with the annual Mexican tradition of commemorating the deceased.  Essentially, in Mexico on November 1 and 2 many families go to great lengths to pay tribute to their loved ones who have passed, including cleaning and spending time through the night at the grave, and in homes, creating altars (ofrendas) filled with food and drink, candles, marigolds and favorite items of the departed family member.  Of course, there is much more to know about El Dia de Los Muertos but today's image features a loaf of Pan de Muerto which is also a mainstay in this custom of honoring the dead and creating a welcoming environment for their spirits who, it is believed, return annually at this time of year for nourishment. 



  1. Heat the milk and the butter together in a medium saucepan, until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and add them warm water. The mixture should be around 110 degrees F (43 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Beat in the warm milk mixture then add the eggs and orange zest and beat until well combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of flour and continue adding more flour until the dough is soft.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
  4. Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This will take about 1 to 2 hours. Punch the dough down and shape it into a large round loaf with a round knob on top. Place dough onto a baking sheet, loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until just about doubled in size.
  5. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven let cool slightly then brush with glaze.
  6. To make glaze: In a small saucepan combine the 1/4 cup sugar, orange juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes. Brush over top of bread while still warm. Sprinkle glazed bread with white sugar.

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