Pan de Muertos (Bread of the Dead)

Pan de Muertos

Halloween isn’t the only holiday this week. Many people will be celebrating Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). It is a holiday to remember and honor loved ones who have passed. It traditionally runs from October 31 to November 2.

Pan de Muertos is a traditional bread made for this holiday. This is a version of that bread that is flavored with anise (or fennel) and orange. It is glazed, after baking, with an orange sauce, then sprinkled with a little extra sugar. I like to use rock sugar, which, as the name implies, is a large sugar that looks like small rocks.

I shaped the dough into a round shape, with a knob of dough on the top.  You can also mold the bread into different shapes like angels or animals.

The bread itself is so tasty. It is a rich dough with a lovely fragrance and texture.

My father was a baker, so I baked this bread to remember him. I think he would approve.

Here is the recipe.

Pan de Muertos (Mexican Bread of the Dead)


1/4 c. each butter, milk and water

3 c. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 t. active dry yeast (half a packet)

1/2 t. salt

2 t. anise seed or fennel seed

1/3 c. sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 t. orange zest


1/4 c. each sugar and orange juice

1 T. orange zest


2 T. sugar, I used rock sugar

Heat together butter, water and milk until the butter melts. Cool to warm. In a large bowl combine 1cup of the flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and 1/3 c. sugar. Beat in the 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. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1- 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. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 35 to 45 minutes. Cool on rack 5 minutes then brush with glaze. 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 2 T. sugar.

Ready to bake

Eat plain, or lightly toasted with butter


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