Day of the Dead Bread

Day of the Dead Bread

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Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is an ancient Aztec ritual celebrated in Mexico and certain parts of Central America and the U.S. On November 1 and 2, wooden skull masks are donned and people dance in honor of their deceased relatives. While holiday traditions vary from place to place, food always plays an important role. The sweet, rich, glazed egg bread, Pan de Muerto, is always served, though it, too, varies in shape and decoration from region to region. The most common shape is round decorated with small pieces of dough on top that represent bones and skulls. Loaves in the shapes of human beings and animals—particularly rabbits—are also popular. White, colored or powdered sugar is often sprinkled on top of the loaves for a festive touch.

120 mins. to Prepare

25 mins. Cooking Time

0 mins. Standing Time

145 mins. Total

Servings: 8 servings per loaf

Difficulty: Challenging


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1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, anise seeds, salt and yeast in large mixer bowl.

HEAT evaporated milk, water and butter over low heat in medium saucepan until mixture reaches 115° to 120° F. and butter is melted. (If too hot, let it cool a bit before adding to dry ingredients.)

MAKE a well in the center of the flour mixture; pour in milk mixture. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until blended.

ADD eggs and 1 1/2 cups flour; mix well. Gradually add remaining 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups flour (1/2 cup at a time) mixing well after each addition until dough is smooth but not sticky (You may not need all the flour).

Step 5 of 18

PLACE dough on lightly floured surface; knead 10 to 15 minutes or until dough is moderately stiff, smooth and elastic. Additional flour may be needed to help prevent sticking.

Step 6 of 18

PLACE dough in large greased bowl; turn over. Cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature for 60 to 75 minutes or until doubled in size.

PUNCH dough down.

Step 8 of 18

CUT dough into 4 equal portions to make 3 “loaves” and 1 for decorations.

SHAPE 3 of the portions into round loaves on lightly floured surface, kneading as necessary. Place on greased baking sheet(s). Keep all dough portions covered with greased plastic wrap to prevent drying of dough.

Step 10 of 18

SHAPE remaining dough portion into 3 small balls, tears, braids and/or bones.

Step 11 of 18

TO DECORATE, place 1 small ball on top of round loaf, surrounding each ball with the remaining decorations. To adhere shapes to dough, gently score decorations, as well as areas on each loaf that decorations will be attached to. Adhere with dabs of water.

LOOSELY COVER with greased plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature for another 30 minutes or until nearly doubled.

PREHEAT oven to 350º F. Meanwhile, prepare Glaze.

COMBINE 1/2 cup sugar and orange juice in small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until syrup is formed, about 5 minutes. (Mixture may bubble up; remove from heat if it does, stir and then return to heat.) Remove from heat.

BAKE loaves for 20 minutes.

Step 16 of 18

BRUSH loaves with syrup.

SPRINKLE with sugar; return to oven. Continue baking for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

Sprinkle colored sugar on loaves.

Amount Per Serving
Servings: 8 servings per loaf
Calories from Fat50
 %Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 3g15%
Cholesterol 45mg16%
Sodium 140mg6%
Carbohydrates 34g11%
Dietary Fiber .5g4%
Sugars 11g
Protein 5g
Vitamin A4%
Vitamin C2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
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