he bread of the dead This is a special type of bread that is closely associated with the Day of the Dead celebration, a week-long festival that begins on the 1st of November, depending on the region.
The shape of Pan de Muerto consists of a small ball in the center of the top representing the skull and four feathers representing bones and tears.
Over time, pan de muerto showed different methods of preparation. For example, in Mexico City and central Mexico, bakeries use simple breads sprinkled with sugar. However, in Michoacán, it is made from “rubber bread” which is shiny brown and round in shape, representing a dedication to the deceased.
Bread ingredients: Make 2 loaves, each serving 6-8 people
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (finely chopped)
- 2 orange strips 8 x 2 cm (use a vegetable peeler, avoid the white core)
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Active dry yeast 7g
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; more as needed
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- vegetable oil as needed
Materials for interview:
- 55 g unsalted butter, melted 4 tablespoons
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Preparation: make the dough
Combine milk, butter, and orange zest in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until butter is melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm. Discard the orange zest, add the orange blossom water and mix in the eggs.
Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water (below 110°F) and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes until the mixture is slightly foamy. (If the yeast does not foam, discard the yeast and try again with new yeast.)
Mix flour, sugar, and salt on a work surface. Make a hole in the center. Gradually pour the yeast mixture and milk mixture into the well, stirring by hand. Knead for about 10 minutes until a homogeneous dough forms. The dough will be soft but still a little sticky. If it’s too sticky, add more flour as needed.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and let stand in a warm place (about 70°F) until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
shape the bread
Cut the dough into lemon-sized pieces and set aside. Divide the remaining dough in half and roll into two balls on a lightly floured surface. Lightly grease or line with a sturdy rimmed baking sheet. Roll up the dough and flatten the top with your hands.
Using some of the dough you set aside, make two balls about the size of large marbles. Set aside and cover with plastic. Divide the remaining dough into 6 equal parts and roll them with your hands from the center outwards into a rope slightly longer than the width of the bread. Spread your index and middle fingers about 2cm apart and press to create a knob that resembles a bone. Place three ropes on top of each round of fabric, overlapping the ropes in the center. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, place a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
Sprinkle a little cold water in the top center of each round where the ropes meet, then place the reserved dough ball on top and press gently to adhere. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the bread is evenly golden brown.
Cover the bread loosely with aluminum foil and continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes until the bottom is golden brown and the internal temperature is 190°F. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for a few minutes.
Brush bread with melted butter. Hold the pan from the bottom (use oven mitts or cardboard if it’s too hot) and sprinkle half the sugar on top, tilting the pan slightly to help coat it evenly. Repeat with the other bread and remaining sugar.
Allow to cool to room temperature before serving. Bread is best eaten the same day it is baked.