Pan de Muertos

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.

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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