And that's how this brand new recipe came into existence. It tastes quite good, like a semi-sweet breakfast bread, but I don't think I've ever had real Pan de Muerto so I can't testify to its authenticity.
According to Wikipedia and my memories from high school Spanish class, El Día de Los Muertos coincides with the Catholic holidays of All Saints Day and All Souls Day and is celebrated on November 2. It's a day to remember and pray for those who have passed and to celebrate their lives. Families build altars and pile them high with the favorite food and drink of their deceased loved ones (note, when I am gone please bring me cheesecake, banana bread and cowboy cookies). Even though symbolic skeletons and skulls abound, El Día de los Muertos isn't spooky or somber. It's a time for celebration and remembrance, and I'm partaking in this day by offering up this loaf of Pan de Muerto, even if its a bastardized version. I've always liked this holiday, this tradition of taking the time to celebrate and talk about and remember those who have passed on. Without further ado, I present my very own recipe for Pan de Muerto.
- 5 1/2 - 6 cups flour
- 2 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 1/2 tsp whole anise seed
- another 1/3 cup of sugar for glaze
- 1/4 cup orange juice for glaze
- Combine flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Gradually add in water and beaten eggs, using enough water so that dough forms elastic ball but isn't super sticky. Mix with dough hook attachment of a mixer or your hands for about five minutes.
- Beat melted butter and milk into the flour mixture. Knead dough on a floured surface for about ten minutes, until smooth and elastic. Lightly grease the bowl you were working with and return dough to it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until the dough doubles in size, about 2 hours.
- Punch down the dough and shape (see here for help on shaping). Shape the main loaf and bones (those are the strips on top) and place them separately on a lightly greased baking sheet. Let rise for one hour.
- Arrange the bones on top of the main loaf on the baking sheet and brush with melted butter or canola oil. I used canola spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Just before you take the bread out of the oven, combine glaze ingredients (sugar and orange juice) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil for one minute. Apply to bread with a pastry brush and let set.